Condition/Diagnosis: Chordoma

Overview: Most often found in the base of the skull or in the base of the spine (sacrum), a Chordoma is a cancerous tumor that occurs along the spine. Essentially what happens is that a malignant (cancerous) coil of cells grows into the embryo.

Base of Spine:
-Changes in bowel habit – for example, constipation
-Incontinence (poor bladder control)
-Changes in mobility – for example, weak legs
-Impotence (problems with erections)

Base of Skull:
-Double vision
-Facial pain
-Changes in hearing
-Difficulty swallowing
-Feelings of dizziness (vertigo)

Treatments: Treatment of these tumors can be difficult because they are located so close the spinal cord. However, Chordomas can be treated by surgical removal, followed by radiation to kill any remaining cancer cells to ensure the tumor does not return. In other cases these tumors can be treated using radiation alone.