Skull Base Tumor Care

Skull base tumors can be difficult to diagnose and treat. They are surrounded by delicate structures including blood vessels and nerves, and they can affect speech, hearing, smell and eyesight. Common skull base tumors include acoustic neuromas and meningiomas.

The Vanderbilt Skull Base Center treats many tumor types located in or around the skull base:

  • Brain: craniopharyngiomas, meningiomas, acoustic neuromas
  • Cartilage and connective tissue: chondrosarcomas; spindle cell neoplasm
  • Ears and eyes: orbital tumors, glomus tympanicum, glomus jugulare
  • Neck: carotid body tumors (carotid paragangliomas)
  • Nerves and skin: facial nerve tumors, glomus vagale (vagus nerve tumors), melanomas, neurofibromatosis NF1 (von Recklinghausen's disease) and NF2; paragangliomas; xanthogranuloma
  • Pituitary: pituitary adenoma, pituitary carcinoma
  • Sinuses and nasal cavity: paranasal sinus tumors; juvenile nasopharyngeal angiofibromas (JNA)
  • Skull base and intracranial cavity: cerebellopontine angle (CPA) tumors; clival tumors; esthesioneuroblastomas (ENB; olfactory neuroblastomas); glomus jugulars; melanomas; squamous cell carcinoma
  • Spine: chordomas

Our Tumor Board

At the Skull Base Center, your treatment will begin with a careful review of your condition by our tumor board. The board includes specialists in:

  • neurosurgery
  • neurotology
  • radiation oncology
  • neurology
  • otolaryngology (ear, nose and throat)
  • head and neck surgery
  • oncology

After the board diagnoses your tumor and recommends a personalized care plan, our patient care coordinator will be your support through treatment, recovery, and any therapy you may require.

Tumor Diagnosis

Tumor diagnosis involves a complete neurological exam. An MRI, CT scan or angiogram may be used to locate and identify the tumor.

Our tumor board will review your complete exam to develop your treatment plan.

Tumor Treatment

Although skull base tumors can be monitored over a period of time, treatment typically involves:

  • surgery
  • radiation therapy
  • combined therapy (both surgery and radiation)

When surgery is needed, one option may be minimally invasive endoscopy, which can:

  • shorten surgery time
  • eliminate scarring
  • offer a faster recovery

If your tumor requires radiation therapy, the Skull Base Center is equipped with advanced radiation equipment such as the Varian Trilogy and Varian TX to deliver faster treatment with minimal discomfort for you.

Recovery and Therapy

Your recovery process will depend on your tumor type and current health. Your patient care coordinator can help you arrange any therapy or additional medical care. The Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center provides expert therapy for any problems with speech, swallowing or hearing.