Sinus and skull base tumors, which can be cancerous or noncancerous (benign), grow in the area behind the eyes and nose that extends to the base of the skull. Even when these tumors are not cancerous, they can still cause problems as they grow and start to press against the brain, vital nerves or major blood vessels.
Sinus & Skull Base Tumor (Skull Cancer) Symptoms
If you have a skull base tumor, your symptoms will vary based on where the tumor is growing and what type of tumor it is. Skull base tumor symptoms often develop slowly as the tumor grows and starts to press against nerves, blood vessels or other important parts of the brain.
See your doctor right away if you experience any of these sinus and skull base tumor (skull cancer) symptoms:
- Pain, numbness or weakness in the face
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
- Hoarseness or laryngitis (losing your voice)
- Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) and frequent choking
- Blurred or double vision, or vision loss
- Hearing loss or ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Changes in your sense of smell
- Dizziness or problems with balance
- Nausea and vomiting
- Memory loss
Many of these are symptoms of multiple conditions, so it’s important to be evaluated by a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis.
Treatment for Sinus and Skull Base Tumors (Skull Cancer)
Skull base tumors are challenging to treat because the tumors are near the brain, eyes, major blood vessels and/or spinal cord. At Rush, skull base and pituitary surgeons will pool their expertise to create personalized treatment plans for you. Your plan may include one or more of the following:
- Surgery to remove as much of the tumor as possible. Skull base surgeons at Rush are able to remove some tumors using minimally invasive approaches, enabling patients to go home sooner and recover faster and with less pain:
- Through the nostril (endonasal endoscopic surgery)
- Using a small incision in the eyebrow
- From behind the ear
- Radiation therapy, which is commonly used for these reasons:
- Before surgery, to improve the likelihood that the tumor can be taken out completely in one piece
- After surgery, to destroy any remaining tumor cells
- To try and slow the growth of tumors that can’t be removed with surgery
- Rehabilitation, to enhance your recovery and help you regain any function lost when the tumor was removed. Rush offers a full range of rehabilitative services, including the following:
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Speech and hearing services
- Pain management
- Nutritional therapy
Rush Excellence in Sinus and Skull Base Tumors (Skull Cancer)
- Nationally ranked care: U.S. News & World Report ranked Rush University Medical Center in Chicago among the best in the nation for both ENT and cancer care.
- Safe and accurate treatment: Skull base and pituitary surgery specialists in Chicago and the surrounding area provide the least invasive but most effective treatment possible. This includes endoscopic surgery to remove the tumors and targeted radiation therapy that kills microscopic tumor cells without harming healthy surrounding tissue.
- Experience that matters: We are among a handful of programs in the U.S. that have extensive experience treating these rare tumors. In fact, only about 5% of U.S. hospitals evaluate and treat as many patients with pituitary and skull base tumors as we do here at Rush. This expertise allows us to successfully treat even the most complex tumors.