A common type of skull base tumor is one that affects the pituitary gland. It typically begins growing behind the eyes, resulting in decreased vision or complete vision loss. This type of tumor often spreads to other areas of the brain. A vestibular schwannoma is a tumor that begins on the nerve that runs from the brain to the ear. If the tumor is not treated, you could experience issues with your balance, hearing loss, and numbness in the face. Meningiomas are seen more often in men than women. They develop along the tissue of the spinal cord and the brain, causing significant impairments in movement if the tumor grows to a substantial size.
Most of the time, a skull base tumor usually won’t display any symptoms until it grows to a size that begins to impact daily functions, like seeing or hearing. Common symptoms of these tumors include a headache, difficulty moving parts of the body, and a loss of balance. Sometimes, there could be pain at the base of the skull or pain that radiates along the spine. If you notice any signs that could point to a tumor, it’s important to let your doctor know so that the proper tests can be performed.
An MRI or a CT scan are two tests that can often detect a skull base tumor. These scans offer information about where the tumor is located as well as the size. Once the doctor has these details, then treatment options can be discussed, such as radiation or chemotherapy. A PET scan is sometimes used to get better details of the tumor. A biopsy is usually performed to determine the type of tumor once one has been discovered.
As with other types of tumors, the least invasive treatment option is usually started first. Radiation is an option that involves beams of energy focused on where the tumor is located. If there is a possibility that the tumor will spread, then chemotherapy might be the best option as it involves drugs that kill numerous cells instead of radiation that focuses on a certain area.
Since there have been advancements in surgical techniques, surgery often results in better success than in years past. There are risks involved with surgery that include a lack of movement in certain areas of the body, a loss of vision, or a loss of hearing depending on where the tumor is located. Surgery is often combined with other treatment options.