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Peter A. Forsyth, Terrence L. Cascino, Edward G. Shaw, Bernd W. Scheithauer, Judith R. O'Fallon, James C. Dozier and David G. Piepgras

✓ Fifty-one patients with intracranial chordomas who were surgically treated between 1960 and 1984 were studied. Median patient age was 46 years, and 73% presented with diplopia or headache. Nineteen tumors were classified as the “chondroid” type. The extent of surgical removal was a biopsy in 11 patients and subtotal removal or greater in 40. Thirty-nine patients received postoperative radiation therapy. At the time of analysis, 17 patients were alive, and the estimated 5- and 10-year survival rates were 51% and 35%, respectively, for the group of 51 patients. Univariate analysis showed that: 1) patients undergoing resection lived longer (the 5-year survival rate was 36% for the 11 biopsy patients compared with 55% for the 40 patients who had resection; 2) patients who underwent postoperative radiotherapy tended to have longer disease-free survival times; and 3) overall and disease-free survival data were the same for patients with chondroid tumors and those with typical chordomas. Multivariate analysis showed that: 1) age was the factor most strongly associated with longer overall and disease-free survival; 2) diplopia was associated with longer survival; and 3) tumoral mitotic activity tended to be associated with shorter disease-free survival. One tumor metastasized to the cervical cord, and two tumors underwent anaplastic transformation. These data suggest that the prognosis in patients with chordomas is unfavorable, young age is the single factor most strongly associated with longer survival, surgical resection is beneficial, and postoperative radiotherapy may prolong disease-free survival.