Symptoms and Signs of Chordoma in Children

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 9/21/2021

Doctor's Notes on Chordoma in Children

Chordoma is a very rare type of bone tumor that can form anywhere along the spine from the base of the skull to the tailbone. In children and adolescents, chordomas more commonly develop in the base of the skull, which makes them difficult to remove completely with surgery. Chordomas may recur, often in the same place, but sometimes in other areas of bone or in the lungs. Childhood chordoma is linked to a genetic condition called tuberous sclerosis, in which benign (not cancerous) tumors form in the kidneys, brain, eyes, heart, lungs, and skin. 

Chordoma grows slowly and may not cause symptoms early on. Symptoms of chordoma may include:

  • headache,
  • neck pain,
  • back pain,
  • double vision or other vision problems,
  • paralysis of the facial muscles,
  • difficulty swallowing,
  • numbness, tingling, or weakness of the arms and legs
  • a change in bowel or bladder habits or lack of bladder or bowel control, or
  • sexual dysfunction.

What Is the Treatment for Chordoma in Children?

The treatment for chordoma in children typically involves the following:

  • Surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible
  • Radiation therapy to kill any remaining tumor cells
  • Targeted therapy may be a treatment option if the tumor returns and the tumor tissue is examined for the presence of a genetic change
  • Clinical trials, which test new drugs or new combinations of drugs against a specific type of cancer, are another treatment option for chordoma that has recurred following treatment


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.