Skull base tumor
The skull base tumor program at Duke is the only center in the Carolinas to offer multiple treatment options and care for all types of skull base tumors, including acoustic neuroma (or vestibular schwannowa), pituitary tumors, facial nerve tumors, glomus tumors of the skull base, neurovascular compression disorders, chordoma and chondrosarcomas, epidermoid cysts and neurofibromatosis type II (NF2). Our specialists use a comprehensive approach to treat the tumor, preserve hearing and balance, minimize facial paralysis, and reduce pain.
Patients travel to Duke from across the country and the world for their skull base tumor treatment because we offer:
- The latest OR technology. We are one of only a handful of medical centers that have an intra-operative MRI (iMRI) in our operating rooms. Obtaining an MRI during surgery ensures complete removal of the tumor and reduces the need for multiple procedures.
- Convenient diagnosis, via email if needed. Many of our patients travel far and have been assessed before they come to our office. If you had diagnostic scan or test performed elsewhere and are looking for a second opinion, you are welcome to email a copy of the results, or send a CD copy directly to our office. Our experts will review your results and create a treatment plan that will be most effective for your case.
- Our doctors work with your doctors. Once treated at Duke, you may wish to continue your treatment closer to home. We will work with your local providers to coordinate your care near your home, which may include radiation or other medication management.
- One personal point of contact. Our nurse navigator will be your personal representative throughout your entire treatment at Duke — from coordinating your appointments, travel and hotel information, to communicating test results and next steps.
- Personalized care team. Treating skull base tumors takes a team of specialists across many areas of expertise, including neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, and ear, nose and throat surgeons. This team works closely with you to create an individualized treatment plan that addresses your unique health situation and needs.
- More comprehensive tests for improved outcomes. Skull base tumors are complex conditions and affect multiple parts of your body. We have the most comprehensive testing facility in the region for evaluating your skull base tumor. This allows us to recommend the best customized treatment options and improve your outcomes after surgery.
- Latest medical advances. Our doctors constantly develop new techniques, test new treatments, and learn and apply the latest research to improve patient care and outcomes.
- Access to clinical trials. Our physician-scientists often participate in clinical trials of new medications and procedures that target skull base tumors. You may be able to participate in studies that use these cutting-edge medications.
- Support to you and your family. Our comprehensive support services range from helping patients minimize the side effects of cancer treatment to coping with the emotional and psychological effects of diagnosis and treatment. View all of our cancer support groups in our event calendar.
SKULL BASE TUMOR
Medications are sometimes used in conjunction with radiation therapy or surgery. We assess the size and location of your tumor and your symptoms to develop the best treatment plan.
Image-guided radiation therapy targets the tumor while preserving your healthy brain tissue. We use several imaging tools, including MRI and CT scans, to pinpoint the location of the tumor and target the radiation dose. This ensures radiation is delivered only to the tumor and spares healthy tissue.
We conduct a careful evaluation and examination that includes details about your condition and medical history before determining if surgery is your best option. Our surgeons are trained and experienced in minimally invasive surgery, as well as traditional surgery (also known as lateral skull base surgery), to remove the tumor. Whenever possible, our surgeons use minimally invasive techniques to reduce healing time and decrease pain.
- Traditional surgery. The most common surgical approach for tumors in the lateral and posterior skull base.
- Minimally-invasive surgery. Uses smaller incisions and endoscopes to reach and remove anterior skull base tumors like pituitary tumors and cholesterol granulomas. It is also used to repair spinal fluid leaks in the skull base.
SKULL BASE TUMOR
We offer more comprehensive tests for skull base tumors than most medical centers in the region, in order to properly diagnose and develop a treatment plan customized for each patient. Most tests can be performed in the same day.
Our physicians assess hearing (auditory brainstem response, or ABR), balance, strength, coordination, reflexes, vision, swallowing, and ability to think and remember.
Various imaging tests may be performed to help detect and diagnose the type of skull base tumor. These tests include CT or CAT scans, MRI scans, PET scans, and angiography.
In some instances, our specialists may remove a small sample of the tumor in order to pinpoint the right diagnosis.