Tumors of the skull base were at one time linked to a poor prognosis and often involved very invasive and disfiguring surgeries, with long recoveries. However, improvements in technology and neuroimaging have revolutionized both the diagnoses and treatment of tumors in this region.
The skull base forms the floor of the cranial cavity and separates the brain from other facial structures, most commonly the sinuses. This boundary is divided into three regions from front to back: the anterior, the middle, and the posterior compartments.
Symptoms of a Skull Based Tumor
A person may experience different symptoms depending on the location of the skull base tumor. These symptoms occur due to compression on important nerves, blockage of the nasal cavity or changes in vision. Common symptoms include:
- Tumors of the anterior compartment may produce headache, sinus congestion, nosebleeds, or vision changes.
- Those of the middle compartment may produce derangements of hormone function or vision changes
- Those of the posterior compartment produce neck pain, dizziness, tinnitus, hearing loss, and difficulties with swallowing and talking.
Types of Skull Based Tumors
The vast majority of tumors of the skull base are benign (not cancerous). These include:
- Pituitary adenoma
- Juvenile Nasopharyngeal Angiofibroma
- Inverted Papilloma
While very rare, the most common types of skull based malignancies include:
- Adenoid cystic carcinoma
- Esthesioneuroblastoma or olfactory neuroblastoma
- Nasopharyngeal carcinoma
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Squamous cell carcinoma
Treatment of Skull Based Tumors
Treatment for tumors of the skull base may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy and/or observation. If surgery is an option, the skull base surgeons at Michigan ENT and Allergy works directly with a Neurosurgeon to use minimally invasive, endoscopic techniques to remove these lesions entirely through the nose.