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Skull Base Tumors

Our Approach

Neurosurgeon Franco DeMonte, M.D., provides reassurance to patient Gwendolyn Davis. Dr. DeMonte is an expert at treating tumors of the skull base, which require advanced surgical skill. 

MD Anderson is one of the few cancer centers in the United States with a comprehensive program focused on malignant and benign skull base tumors. This high level of experience and expertise could make a difference in the success of your treatment.

The Brain and Spine Center's team approach to skull base tumors brings together renowned experts from many specialties to give you comprehensive, personalized care. A group of specialists meets regularly to discuss your needs and options. This exchange of ideas sets the stage for delivering the highest level of care for skull base tumors

This approach begins with your first visit and continues through diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and follow-up. Your team may include surgeons, radiation and medical oncologists, ophthalmologists, nutritionists, nurses and social workers.

And they have at their fingertips the latest technology and techniques to diagnose and treat skull base tumors, including minimally invasive surgery, innovative radiotherapy and one of the few proton therapy centers in the nation.

Surgical Skill

Surgery is often part of the treatment for skull base tumors. The location deep in the structures of the head presents significant challenges because important nerve and brain structures may be involved.

Our surgeons have pioneered techniques and surgical approaches that allow for maximum safe removal of tumors in this delicate and complex area. They are experts in open and minimally invasive diagnostic and surgical approaches to skull base tumors.

Members of both MD Anderson's Head and Neck Center and Brain and Spine Center, our surgeons have extensive experience in skull base tumor procedures. They have been recognized in US News & World Report's list of Best Doctors in America, and they are respected around the world.

Advanced Radiation Therapy, Rehabilitation

For patients with skull base tumors that are responsive to irradiation, radiation oncologists prepare three-dimensional treatment plans for the precise delivery of radiation therapy. MD Anderson's Proton Therapy Center provides an additional treatment option for patients with specific tumors that are well suited to this innovative therapy.

Giving patients with skull base tumors the opportunity and the tools to enjoy life fully is an important part of care at MD Anderson. Many patients can overcome limitations caused by skull base tumors or treatment effects with the help of caring professionals, who may include audiologists, behavioral psychologists, language therapists, neuropsychologists, nutritionists and occupational, physical, speech and swallowing therapists.

And, as one of the nation's leading cancer centers, MD Anderson is able to offer a range of clinical trials of new treatments for skull base tumors.

If you have been diagnosed with a skull base tumor, it is important to be evaluated by expert physicians. We can help. Call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.

Why Choose MD Anderson?

  • One of the few comprehensive skull base tumor programs in the nation
  • Sophisticated operating room technology includes image guidance and surgical robotics
  • Multi-specialty team approach to skull base tumor care
  • Range of radiation treatments including radiosurgery (Gamma Knife®), focused radiation and proton therapy
  • Specialized pathologists for accurate diagnosis of skull base tumors
  • Range of clinical trials of new treatments for skull base tumors

Skull Base Tumor Knowledge Center

Treatment at MD Anderson

Skull base tumors are treated in our:

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Skull Base Tumor Facts

The skull base is the area behind the eyes and nose that slopes down to the back of the head. It forms the floor, or base, of the skull. The spinal cord, multiple nerves and the major blood vessels of the brain, head and neck pass through openings in the skull base.

The term “skull base tumor” refers to the tumor’s location. The type of cancer cell can be one of several. Some are malignant (cancer), and some are benign (non-cancerous). Even benign tumors can cause problems because they are growing in a confined space.

Skull Base Tumor Types

Skull base tumors are grouped by location and the type of cells in the tumor. Where a skull base tumor begins can make a difference in the type of cancer cells. Location also can influence symptoms and treatment.

Skull base tumors may start from:

  • Areas below the skull base, such as the nasal sinus or inner ear
  • Brain tumors that grow down toward the skull base
  • The bones of the skull base

Benign skull base tumor types include:

  • Meningioma
  • Pituitary adenoma
  • Acoustic neuroma (also called vestibular schwannoma)
  • Glomus tumors (also called paraganglioma, glomus tympanicum, glomus jugulare, carotid body tumor)
  • Neuroma (trigeminal neuroma, vagal schwannoma)

Malignant skull base tumor types include:

  • Carcinomas (squamous cell, basal cell, adenoid cystic, adenocarcinoma)
  • Sarcomas (chondrosarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, osteosarcoma)
  • Esthesioblastoma
  • Carcinoid (neuroendocrine carcinoma)
  • Mucosal melanoma

If you have been diagnosed with a skull base tumor, we’re here to help. Call 1-877-632-6789 to make an appointment or request an appointment online.


© 2014 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center