Skull Base Tumor

The skull base is a very complex area of bone that runs from behind the eyes and nose to the bottom of the skull. Different types of tumors occur in this area. They are all called skull base tumors, a general term based on their location.

Skull base tumors include:

These tumors may behave quite differently from each other.

What’s in this section?

Signs and Symptoms

In general, tumors will result in symptoms based on the area of the brain they affect or invade. Because of the location of these tumors, the symptoms can appear more substantial than, for instance, a tumor arising on the surface of the brain.


Common diagnostic tests for a skull base tumor include computerized tomography CT , magnetic resonance imaging MRI of the head. Vascular imaging such as CT angiogram CTA , MRA or cerebral angiography are usually obtained if there is concern that the tumor is highly vascular or that it distorts or encases important blood vessels.

Treatment Options

A customized treatment plan is put together for you based on:

  • The type of tumor and its symptoms, exact location and size
  • Your age and general health
  • Your tolerance for treatment
  • Your preferences

Treatment for a skull base tumor may include one, or a combination, of the following options:

  • Observation may be a consideration, depending on the type of tumor
  • Surgery. Approaches may include a craniotomy or skull base surgery (open or endoscopic). Stereotactic or image-guided biopsy may be utilized in some circumstances to establish a definite diagnosis.
  • Chemotherapy and radiation treatment (including stereotactic radiosurgery) may also be considered.
  • Radiation treatment may be recommended. This treatment uses high-energy particles or waves to kill cancer cells by damaging their DNA.

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