Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2022 Mar 1;146(3):386-395. doi: 10.5858/arpa.2020-0258-RA.


Context.—: Chordomas are uncommon malignant neoplasms with notochordal differentiation encountered by neuropathologists, bone/soft tissue pathologists, and general surgical pathologists. These lesions most commonly arise in the axial skeleton. Optimal therapy typically involves complete surgical resection, which is often technically difficult owing to the anatomic location, leading to a high rate of recurrence. Lesions have been generally resistant to radiation and chemotherapy; however, experimental studies involving targeted therapy and immunotherapy are currently underway.

Objective.—: To summarize the clinical and pathologic findings of the various types of chordoma (conventional chordoma, dedifferentiated chordoma, and poorly differentiated chordoma), the differential diagnosis, and recent advances in molecular pathogenesis and therapeutic modalities that are reliant on accurate diagnosis.

Data sources.—: Literature review based on PubMed searches containing the term "chordoma" that address novel targeted and immunomodulatory therapeutic modalities; ongoing clinical trials involved in treating chordoma with novel therapeutic modalities identified through the Chordoma Foundation and; and the authors' practice experience combined with various authoritative texts concerning the subject.

Conclusions.—: Chordoma is a clinically and histologically unique malignant neoplasm, and numerous diagnostic considerations must be excluded to establish the correct diagnosis. Treatment options have largely been centered on surgical excision with marginal results; however, novel therapeutic options including targeted therapy and immunotherapy are promising means to improve prognosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chordoma* / diagnosis
  • Chordoma* / pathology
  • Chordoma* / therapy
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans