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Skull Base Tumor Diagnosis

MD Anderson’s Skull Base Tumor program has specialized, dedicated pathologists with extensive backgrounds in these complex tumors. This sets us apart from most other cancer centers. Our focus and expertise can make a difference in the success of your treatment. In addition, we have the most modern and accurate technology and equipment available to help pinpoint skull base tumors.

Early and accurate diagnosis of skull base tumors is important. This will help your doctors choose the best type of treatment for you.

Skull Base Tumor Diagnostic Tests

If you have symptoms that may signal a skull base tumor, your doctor will examine you and ask you questions about your health and symptoms. Our team of experts carefully chooses the tests that are best for each specific tumor.

One or more of the following tests may be used to find out if you have a skull base tumor and if it has spread.

Imaging tests, which may include:

  • CT or CAT (computed axial tomography) scans
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans
  • PET (positron emission tomography) scans
  • Angiography

Biopsy: One of these biopsy methods may be used:

  • Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) 
  • Endoscope inserted through the nose and sinuses
  • Surgery

Functional testing to find out how certain parts of the head and neck are working. These tests are chosen based on your symptoms and where the skull base tumor is. They may include:

  • Hearing test (audiogram, auditory brainstem response (ABR)
  • Vestibular tests (videonystagmography, rotary chair testing)
  • Vision testing
  • Videostroboscopy of vocal fold function
  • Swallowing testing (modified barium swallow)

Getting A Second Opinion at MD Anderson

A correct diagnosis is critical to choosing appropriate treatment. The pathologists at MD Anderson are highly specialized in diagnosing and staging every type of skull base tumor.

Pathologists often have to base diagnosis of skull base tumors on very small pieces of tissue from biopsies. Because skull base tumors are complex and of many different types, correctly identifying the type of tumor may be difficult for pathologists who may see them only once or twice in a lifetime.

We welcome the opportunity to provide second opinions for skull base tumors.

Some cases of skull base tumors can be passed down from one generation to the next. Genetic counseling may be right for you. Learn more about the risk to you and your family on our genetic testing page.

Clinical Trials

MD Anderson patients have access to clinical trials offering promising new treatments that cannot be found anywhere else.

Knowledge Center

Find the latest news and information about skull base tumors in our Knowledge Center, including blog posts, articles, videos, news releases and more.