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Symptoms of a Chordoma

Symptoms of a chordoma depend on the tumor’s size and location. The tumor can cause numbness, back pain, headaches, and vision problems, among other symptoms.

A chordoma in the base of the skull, also known as a clival chordoma, can affect the facial and optical nerves, and cause pain and changes in nerve function in surrounding structures, including:

  • Changes in hearing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Double vision
  • Facial pain or numbness
  • Headache
  • Neck pain
  • Paralysis of facial muscles
  • Problems swallowing
  • Speech changes


Chordomas below the skull base can press on the spine and nerves and cause the following symptoms:

  • Changes in bladder or bowel function and control
  • Changes in mobility – e.g., weakness in legs
  • Impotence
  • Numbness
  • Pain
  • Tingling
  • Weakness


Reviewed by: Theodore Schwartz, MD
Last reviewed: March 2018