Swedish Medical Center is one of the few facilities in the country with a dedicated program for skull base tumors.

Our comprehensive skull base program, board-certified specialized physicians and access to cutting-edge treatment options offer patients the best skull base tumor care available.

The “skull base” refers to the bottom of the skull, or the plate of bone upon which the brain sits. Skull base tumors may form in the areas below the skull base, such as the nasal sinus or inner ear, or the bones of the skull base. The phrase “skull base tumor” refers to the tumor’s location in the skull base. 

Skull Base Tumor Symptoms and Treatment

Skull base tumors can be either malignant (cancer) or benign (non-cancerous), and can cause a variety of symptoms. These can include: 

  • Altered sense of smell
  • Congestion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Headaches
  • Hearing loss
  • Recurring sinus problems
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Vision loss or double vision
  • Weakness, numbness or pain in the face 

When a patient arrives with one or more of these symptoms, our physicians may utilize a variety of diagnostic tests. In addition to a physical exam to test hearing and vision and examine the reported symptoms, we use cutting-edge imaging technology, endoscopy examinations and tumor biopsies to determine the cause of symptoms. 

We have imaging capabilities specific for skull base tumors, including CT or CAT scans, MRIs, bone scans or PET scans. We utilize all available methods to ensure the diagnosis is specific and accurate. 

Skull Base Tumor Treatment Approach

The specialists at Swedish Medical Center offer a comprehensive skull base tumor treatment program with expertise from a multidisciplinary team of experts. Our clinical team is board-certified and highly specialized to treat specific skull base tumors with a variety of surgical procedures, radiation oncology treatment and chemotherapy

At Swedish Medical Center, we approach each patient’s case with a multidisciplinary team of specialists. For skull base tumor patients, our surgical treatment team can include otolaryngologists, neurosurgeons, interventional neuroradiologists, neurotologists, craniofacial surgeons and plastic surgeons. These physicians also meet with a team of pathologists, medical oncologists, nurse navigators, dieticians and social workers to discuss patient cases and develop comprehensive treatment plans from diagnosis through recovery. 

For many skull base tumor patients, treatment includes a surgical procedure to remove the tumor. We choose the most minimally invasive technique available based on each patient’s specific condition. We offer several options for surgical removal of skulls base tumors, including: 

Minimally invasive surgical techniques – We offer endoscopic minimally invasive skull base surgery, a highly specialized procedure that involves no incision or a very small incision to remove a skull base tumor. This approach can reduce complications, shorten recovery time and lessen damage to healthy tissue.

Open incision surgical techniques – We also perform open incision surgery to remove skull base tumors. The surgical team creates minimal incisions to remove the tumor, and when necessary, our team of plastic and reconstructive surgeons works to rebuild the bone and tissue for function and appearance. 

Interventional neuroradiology treatment – For patients with malignant tumors, radiology can be a part of the treatment process. Our physicians are experienced in performing radiation treatment that delivers the maximum amount of radiation with the minimum amount of damage to healthy cells. 

At Swedish, our leading physicians also have access to innovative clinical trials. These clinical trials can offer a novel therapy approach for complex or difficult to treat skull base tumors, expanding the treatment options available to Swedish patients.

On the Road to Recovery

At Swedish Medical Center, we’re committed to providing patients with a comprehensive treatment and recovery plan. We offer a wide range of support services for patients with skull base tumors: 

  • A Dedicated nurse navigator for the skull base tumor program helps coordinate treatment and recovery services for patients
  • Rehabilitation services , including speech and language therapy
  • Registered social workers, dieticians and psychologists help patients cope with the physical and mental aspects of recovery 

We provide the care you need from diagnosis to recovery. To learn more about the skull base tumor program at Swedish Medical Center, call our nurse navigator at 303-788-3992.

If you have recently been diagnosed with a tumor, call our Brain Tumor Support Hotline for assistance with discussing and identifying treatment options, second opinion services, emotional support resources and more. Call 303-788-5500, Monday-Friday between 3pm and 4pm.