Base of skull chordomas in children and adolescents: A clinicopathologic study of 73 cases

Benjamin L. Hoch, Gunnlaugur P. Nielsen, Norbert J. Liebsch, Andrew E. Rosenberg

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121 Scopus citations


Chordomas in children and adolescents comprise <5% of all chordomas and most frequently develop in the skull base. These tumors are believed to behave more aggressively than chordomas in adults and may have unusual morphology. This study examines a large series of pediatric skull base chordomas treated with a standardized protocol to characterize the behavior and morphology of these tumors. There were 31 males and 42 females ranging from 1 to 18 (mean 9.7) years. Forty-two cases (58%) were conventional chordomas, some of which had unusual histopathologic features. Chondroid chordomas comprised 23% of cases. Fourteen tumors (19%) were highly cellular and had a solid growth pattern with no myxoid matrix or lobular architecture. Eight of these had cytologic features of conventional chordoma cells including physaliferous cells (cellular chordoma). The remaining cellular tumors were composed of poorly differentiated epithelioid cells set in a fibrous stroma and lacked physaliferous cells (poorly differentiated chordoma). All variants studied by immunohistochemistry showed positive staining for cytokeratin, epithelial membrane antigen, S100 protein, and vimentin. Mitoses and necrosis were seen in all variants. Follow-up data were available for all patients and ranged from 1 to 21 (mean 7.25) years. The survival rate was 81%. All but 1 patient with poorly differentiated chordoma died of disease. Overall, base of skull chordomas in children and adolescents treated with proton beam radiation have better survival than chordomas in adults. However, poorly differentiated chordomas are highly aggressive tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)811-818
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgical Pathology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescents
  • Children
  • Chordoma
  • Skull base

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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