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Skull Base Tumor FAQs

What Are Skull Base Tumors?

Skull base tumors are abnormal growths that are benign, non-cancerous, or malignant, cancerous. The skull base separates the brain from other structures in the face and forms the cranial cavity floor, the base of the skull.


Is There More Than One Type of Skull Base Tumor?

Skull base brain tumors include the following types.

  • Acoustic neuroma: the two types of acoustic neuroma are unilateral and bilateral. A unilateral neuroma is the most common type of neuroma and only affects one ear. Bilateral neuroma affects both ears. Acoustic neuroma, also called vestibular schwannoma, grows due to an abundance of Schwann cells. This tumor is rare and non-cancerous.
  • Chondroma: these benign tumors can develop and grow in the cartilage in the skull and often affect people between 10 and 30 years old. Chondromas are rare tumors.
  • Chondrosarcoma: this type of bone cancer grows in the cells of cartilage. Cartilage is the connective tissues from which bones develop. This tumor is commonly found in the pelvis, femur, knee, or arm.
  • Chordoma: these slow-growing tumors derive from embryonic tissue that forms the middle of spinal disks, also known as the notochord. Chordomas often form at the base of the skull or in the spine. These tumors can increase in size, and they are malignant.
  • Giant cell tumor: these cell tumors can affect the pelvis, breastbone, and other flat bones, but they are often found in the knee. Giant cell tumors affect individuals who are between the ages of 20 and 40. These tumors are non-cancerous, aggressive, and rare.
  • Hemangiopericytoma: these tumors are often found in the neck, pelvic area, brain, legs, and head. Hemangiopericytomas can be benign or malignant, and they can spread to the liver, lungs, or bones. These rare tumors involve the blood vessels and often have little to no symptoms and are painless.
  • Meningioma: these tumors form and grow in the cranial base, the bottom of the skull. Skull base meningiomas can be malignant or benign, but they are often non-cancerous.
  • Metastatic brain tumors: these tumors multiply and destroy brain tissue. When cancer cells travel to the brain from different parts of the body, these are known as secondary brain tumors. These cancer cells separate from the primary tumor and use the bloodstream to travel to the brain.
  • Nasopharyngeal angiofibroma: these tumors often affect adolescent boys. They spread into different areas of the nose. Nasopharyngeal angiofibroma is a benign tumor, also known as juvenile nasopharyngeal angiofibroma.
  • Olfactory neuroblastoma: also known as esthesioneuroblastoma, begins in the olfactory nerves, nerves that affect your sense of smell. This rare cancer occurs in the nasal cavity roof and can involve the bone between the eyes, the cribriform plate.
  • Osteoma: these new growths are bony and frequently found on facial and skull bones. Osteomas are benign bone growths that can grow on another bone or tissue. When osteomas grow on bones, they are called homoplastic osteoma. Osteomas that grow on tissue are called heteroplastic osteoma.
  • Paranasal sinus cancer: the open spaces behind the nose are called sinuses. Paranasal sinus cancer comes in the form of a tumor that can grow in the nerves that line the sinuses, in the cells of the membranes, and in the bones.
  • Petrous apex lesions: these abnormalities are found in the middle ear next to the skull. Different types of petrous apex lesions include petrous apicitis, bone cancer, petrous apex effusion, and cholesteatomas. The most common lesions are cholesterol granulomas. These granulomas are benign cysts. Patients with other types of cancer could develop malignant tumors known as metastatic petrous apex lesions.
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma: this malignant tumor is found in the muscles and other soft tissue. Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) affects the muscles that control body movement. These tumors are a type of sarcoma that can affect children and adults.

What Causes Skull Base Tumors?

Once damaged or old cells die, the body replaces them with healthy ones. Tumors can develop due to rapid cell division. Sometimes the cause of tumor development is unknown.

Are There Signs and Symptoms Associated with Skull Base Tumors?

The signs and symptoms of skull base tumors vary depending on the type, size, and location of the tumor, and can include different symptoms, such as:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Headache
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Nasal drainage
  • Hearing loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Memory loss
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Loss of balance
  • Altered sense of smell

What Are the Available Treatment Options for Skull Base Tumors?

Treatment options for skull base tumors include:

  • Observation (early stages of the tumor)
  • MRI-guided laser ablation
  • TT fields (tumor-treating fields)
  • Tubular retractor systems
  • Surgery

Here at Houston Advanced Nose, we provide effective treatment options for our patients who have sinus problems and skull base tumors. We use innovative radiologic imaging and are here to help you enjoy your life to the fullest. Schedule a consultation today to feel better and breathe better.

We’re here to help

If you are frustrated by frequent sinus infections, persistent nasal congestion, or other sinus symptoms, Dr. Arjuna Kuperan and the team at Houston Advanced Nose & Sinus can help. Contact us today with any questions or to schedule your consultation.

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