Evaluating the Role of Adjuvant Radiotherapy in the Management of Sacral and Vertebral Chordoma: Results from a National Database

Yagiz Yolcu, Waseem Wahood, Mohammed Ali Alvi, Panagiotis Kerezoudis, Scott H. Okuno, Robert L. Foote, Mohamad Bydon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Chordomas are slow-growing but locally invasive tumors. The standard of care consists of surgical resection and radiotherapy (RT) when complete resection is not possible. The reported data has reached equivocal results regarding the effect of adding RT to increase patient survival. We investigated the effect of adjuvant RT on patient survival. Methods: The National Cancer Database was queried for patients with a diagnosis of sacral and vertebral column chordoma from 2004 to 2010. The primary outcome was overall survival, which was assessed using Kaplan-Meier plots. Cox proportional hazards were performed to evaluate the effect of each treatment modality on survival after adjusting for an array of patient demographics, facility type, and tumor characteristics. Results: The data from 282 patients with chordoma were analyzed; 209 patients (74.1%) had undergone gross total resection (GTR) alone. The median follow-up period for the GTR alone and GTR plus RT groups was 63.4 and 67.6 months, respectively. The mean survival was comparable between patients receiving GTR alone and those receiving adjuvant RT, for both sacral (7.7 and 6.9 years, respectively; P = 0.56) and vertebral chordoma (8.8 and 6.2 years, respectively; P = 0.59). Using Cox proportional hazards, we found that compared with GTR alone, GTR plus adjuvant RT did not add any significant survival benefit, for patients with either sacral chordoma (hazard ratio, 0.55; P = 0.43) or vertebral chordoma (hazard ratio, 7.29; P = 0.23). Conclusion: Using data from a large national cancer registry, we found that the available evidence is not enough to suggest that the addition of RT offers a survival benefit for patients with sacral and spinal chordoma after GTR. Given the non-negligible complications associated with RT, the balance of benefits and risks must be considered during preoperative tailoring of the treatment decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e1137-e1144
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Chordoma
  • National cancer database
  • Radiotherapy
  • Surgery
  • Survival

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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