“Significant advances have occurred in the last two decades, both in our understanding of the basic pathology and molecular biology of these tumors, and in our clinical approach to diagnosing and treating them. The purpose of this text is to increase awareness of this progress by providing a comprehensive update on the management strategies and therapeutic techniques that will improve patient care.” — Dr. Griffith Harsh, Professor of Neurosurgery, Stanford University Medical Center
Fifteen years ago, an international team of doctors led by Dr. Griffith Harsh, a skull base neurosurgeon at the Stanford University Medical Center, published Chordomas and Chondrosarcomas of the Skull and Spine – the first definitive textbook about chordoma, and the related cancer, chondrosarcoma. The book catalogued the current state of knowledge about chordoma and chondrosarcoma and provided detailed treatment methodologies from many of the world’s preeminent specialists. Filling a gap in the medical literature at that time, it served as an authoritative reference to help clinicians learn how to best care for patients with these tumors.
Fortunately, since then, significant progress has been made in the understanding and treatment of chordoma. Advances in pathology have all but eliminated diagnostic uncertainty. New surgical techniques have made once-unresectable tumors potentially curable. Improvements in imaging and radiation techniques are enabling more precise and more effective radiotherapy. And, international efforts to build consensus about treatment best practices have helped to increase consistency of care.
At the same time, over the past decade, the Chordoma Foundation has helped catalyze a surge in chordoma research, uncovering the key molecular drivers of the disease and opening an expanding pipeline of promising new treatment options for clinical trials.
Recognizing the need for an update to reflect these advances, last week, Dr. Harsh and colleagues published a second edition of their seminal textbook. This time, Dr. Harsh was joined in editing the book by his former clinical fellow Dr. Francisco Vaz-Guimaraes, now an Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at Baylor College of Medicine. Together, they assembled, as authors, a remarkable group of experts from top treatment centers throughout the world, representing every specialty involved in caring for patients with chordomas and chondrosarcomas. The result is the most comprehensive reference detailing the current state of the art of diagnosis and treatment for these tumors.
The intended audiences of this text are clinicians and trainees in the fields of neurosurgery, medical oncology, neuroscience, orthopedic surgery, head and neck surgery, and radiation oncology. Patients and caregivers who desire a deeper understanding of the disease and treatment options may also find it valuable.
“As a fellow at the University of Pittsburgh, I referred frequently to Dr. Harsh’s book for information and guidance about chordoma and chondrosarcoma. Now, nearly a decade later, I am pleased to collaborate with him in assembling the experience of the world’s experts whose work is revolutionizing treatment for these tumors.” — Dr. Francisco Vaz-Guimaraes, Department of Neurosurgery, Baylor College of Medicine
Emerging partnership with patient groups
One of the biggest developments in the field since the first edition of the textbook was published is the emergence of patient-driven organizations that work with the medical community to advance research and improve patient care. Savvy patient groups have assumed an important role in the medical research ecosystem, supporting and driving progress in novel ways. Accordingly, the second edition of the textbook includes chapters from the Chordoma Foundation, as well as the Sarcoma Foundation of America, which represents the interests of patients with chondrosarcomas.
The Chordoma Foundation’s chapter, authored by our co-founder and Executive Director, Josh Sommer, details our work over the past decade to accelerate chordoma research, while improving the lives of patients and families it affects. It includes an explanation of the strategy by which we pursue our three core goals — better treatments, better care and a better experience for all affected by chordoma — and summarizes progress made toward each. Moreover, it describes the programs the Foundation has developed to increase the speed and efficiency of chordoma research and to build a vibrant research community, which now includes more than 300 researchers and a dozen pharmaceutical companies working toward better treatments.
“The Chordoma Foundation has played a major role in advancing research in the past decade. It stands among the giants in the field and ensures they work together as a team. Much of the progress we detail in the book has happened as a result of the Foundation’s involvement.” — Dr. Francisco Vaz-Guimaraes
We are grateful to Dr. Harsh, Dr. Vaz-Guimaraes, and all of the authors who contributed to this important text, including several members of our Medical Advisory Board. In its updated form, this reference will help ensure that clinicians and trainees around the world incorporate the latest knowledge and treatment approaches into their practice, which, we hope, will result in better patient care, and, ultimately, better patient outcomes.