Skull Base Tumors

About Skull Base Tumors

Skull base tumors are tumors that either arise from or are found within the area within the skull on which the brain rests. This group of tumors is classified based on location, so there are multiple skull base tumor types. Each type will vary in aggressiveness and symptoms and require different types of treatment. A doctor may recommend chemotherapy, traditional surgery, stereotactic radiosurgery at a Gamma Knife center or a combination approach, depending on the patient’s individual condition.

Skull Base Tumor Development

Skull base tumors are variable and may be benign or malignant, depending on type. However, because the skull is just large enough to fit the brain, a benign tumor can still put pressure on surrounding tissues and require treatment even if there is no potential for it to transform into a cancerous tumor.

Skull base tumor types include:

  • Acoustic neuromas
  • Chondrosarcomas
  • Chordomas
  • Craniopharyngiomas
  • Meningiomas
  • Metastases

Symptoms and Diagnosis of Skull Base Tumors

Symptoms will depend on the area being impacted by the tumor and many people don’t experience any symptoms at all until their skull base tumor has grown large enough to produce an effect. Potential skull base tumor symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Facial pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vision issues
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty hearing or tinnitus

To diagnose a skull base tumor, a doctor may order diagnostic imaging, such as computed tomography scans (CT) scans or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI.) A biopsy may also be required to confirm what type of skull base tumor an individual has.

Treatment of Skull Base Tumors

Because skull base tumors are variable, the doctor will work with each individual to develop an appropriate treatment plan. Skull base tumors can be made up of different types of cells, so some treatment methods may be more effective for a patient than others. Many patients benefit from a combination approach, which may include:

  • Skull base tumor surgery: This involves surgical removal of all or part of the tumor, often followed by radiation therapy.
  • Stereotactic Radiosurgery: A focused beam of radiation is delivered directly to the tumor during a non-surgical, outpatient procedure using advanced technology, such as the Leksell Gamma Knife®Icon.
  • Chemotherapy: This involves treating some forms of skull base tumors using medications.

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