Chordoma: Natural history and treatment results in 33 cases



Thirty-three chordomas were observed at the Istituto Nazionale Tumori of Milan from 1933 to 1983: 27 sacrococcygeal, 3 spheno-occipital, and 3 vertebral. The male:female ratio was 2.7, and the median age was 63 yr for patients with sacrococcygeal and 35.2 yr for those with nonsacral chordomas. After pathologic reassessment, distinct cytologic patterns were found: physaliphorous, syncytial, and mixed subtypes, with variable degrees of cytologic atypia. However, no evident difference in survival was documented in relation to these cytohistologic features. Four cases had a prior traumatic fracture, and the pathogenetic role of trauma is stressed. Eight cases were operated with adequate surgery and only three recurred, whereas of 11 inadequate operations, 10 developed local relapse. However, follow-up for recent adequate operations is short. Radiation therapy seemed to be effective with adjuvant or palliative aims. No chemotherapeutic regimen achieved any result; one case had a short complete remission after cis-dichlorodiammineplatinum + vinblastine + bleomycin (PVB). This analysis confirms the possibility of achieving radicality with high resection of the sacrum for lesions confined below the second sacral vertebra. Nonsacral chordomas were all unresectable. The best treatment for unresectable lesions seems to be palliative surgery plus radiotherapy.