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What causes chordomas?

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In the womb, a baby has a thin bar called a notochord that runs along his back. This bar supports the bones of the spine as they grow. The notochord disappears before the baby is born.

In a small number of people, some of the notochord cells get left behind in the spine and skull.

Doctors believe chordoma starts because of a change in the gene that carries instructions for making a protein that helps the spine form. This change causes notochord cells that are left in the brain or spinal cord to divide too quickly.

This change usually happens randomly -- no one in your family has to have chordoma for you to get it, but it can run in families in rare instances.

From: What Is Chordoma? WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: "Chordoma."

Chordoma Foundation: "Frequently Asked Questions," "Understanding Chordoma."

Genetics Home Reference: "Chordoma."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Chordoma."

National Organization for Rare Disorders: "Chordoma."

Reviewed by Sabrina Felson on October 26, 2018

SOURCES:

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: "Chordoma."

Chordoma Foundation: "Frequently Asked Questions," "Understanding Chordoma."

Genetics Home Reference: "Chordoma."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Chordoma."

National Organization for Rare Disorders: "Chordoma."

Reviewed by Sabrina Felson on October 26, 2018

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What are the symptoms of chordomas?

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