Background: Chordoma is a rare tumor, and its natural history is still not well known. Materials and Methods: All patients affected by localized chordoma surgically treated at Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli, Bologna, and Istituto Nazionale Tumori, Milan, Italy, between 1980 and 2008 were reviewed. Local recurrence, distant metastasis, and overall survival (OS) were analyzed both from time of diagnosis and from time of local recurrence/distant metastasis. A multivariable analysis to identify independent prognostic factors was carried out. Results: A total of 138 consecutive patients were identified (sacrum 78%, lumbar spine 15%, cervical-dorsal spine 7%). Of these, 130 underwent surgical resection. Median follow-up was 142 months. The 5- and 10-year OS, local relapse-free survival (LRFS), and distant relapse-free survival (DRFS) were, respectively, 78% and 54%, 52% and 33%, and 86% and 72%. Size was an independent prognostic factor for OS (P value <.001), LRFS (P value: .038), and DRFS (P value: .004), while surgical margins independently predicted LRFS (P value: .003) with a trend for OS. The 5- and 10-year OS, LRFS, and DRFS after the first local relapse were 50% and 26%, 47% and 31%, and 64% and 61%. The size of the recurrence and quality of surgical margins did not influence postrelapse OS. The 5-year OS after the second local relapse was 19%. 22% of patients developed distant metastases with a 5-year post-metastases OS of 33%. Conclusions: Tumor size and surgical margins affected outcome only on initial presentation. However, wide surgery was feasible in a minority of cases. Most patients died of local-regional disease even when metastases occurred. Indeed, long-term prognosis was such that disease-free survival at 10 years was only 26%.
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