Bone Tumors:  Base of Skull Chordoma: The Conundrum of Biology and Morphology


Dr. Benjamin L. Hoch

Assistant Professor of Pathology

Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY


Tuesday, March 25th, at 4:30 5:30 p.m.

Ruhl Student Center, Community Room




Bone tumors in humans are uncommon neoplasms that often arise in children and adolescents. Predicting the biological behavior of a given tumor is essential to developing a definitive treatment plan for the patient which can range from relatively simple surgical procedures to the amputation of an extremity with combined systemic chemotherapy. Traditionally, clinical factors, such as the location of a tumor, and pathologic features, such as the microscopic appearance of the tumor cells and mitotic activity, have been used to help predict the behavior of a tumor. Today, understanding the molecular mechanisms of tumorogenesis is essential to better predicting the behavior of bone tumors and developing customized treatment strategies including targeted pharmacological therapies. Chordoma is a malignant bone tumor that accounts for less than 5% of bone neoplasms.  It develops in the sacrum, base of skull, and mobile spine. Chordoma is believed to arise from embryological remnants of the notochord. As such, this tumor provides an opportunity to explore the relationship between embryogenesis and the pathogenesis of bone tumors. In general, chordomas are slow growing neoplasms that can recur following surgery and result in the death of the patient by local invasion, or less commonly, by metastatic spread to other organ systems. Traditional pathological features used to predict tumor behavior have not been applicable to chordomas.  Therefore, defining the unique relationship between the embryology of the notochord and chordoma should reveal new molecular markers to be used in predicting behavior and as potential molecular targets for pharmacological therapy.   


Dr. Benjamin Hoch is Assistant Professor of Pathology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY. He received his B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Colorado, Boulder, CO and subsequently received his Doctorate of Medicine from Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, PA. While completing his residency in Anatomic Pathology at Barnes Hospital-Washington University in St. Louis, Dr. Hoch developed an interest in Bone and Soft Tissue Pathology. In order to further his interest in the diagnosis and pathogenesis of bone and soft tissue tumors, he served as Instructor and Benjamin Castleman Fellow in Bone and Soft Tissue Pathology at the Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA. Dr. Hoch is a practicing surgical pathologist who diagnoses bone and soft tissue tumors using light microscopy and molecular techniques as part of a multidisciplinary team who treats and manages patients with these tumors. He pursues clinicopathological research on a variety of bone tumors including chordoma and giant cell tumor of bone.


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