Skull Base Cancer

Skull base cancer refers to a rare type of cancer that originates in the bones, tissues, or structures at the base of the skull. The skull base is the area at the bottom of the skull, which supports and protects the brain, as well as houses important nerves and blood vessels. Tumors that develop in this region can be challenging to diagnose and treat due to their location and proximity to vital structures.

Signs & Symptoms
  • Headaches: Persistent or recurring headaches, often localized to the front or back of the head, can be a symptom of skull base cancer. The headaches may worsen over time and may not respond to typical headache treatments.
  • Vision problems: Tumors located near the optic nerves or optic chiasm (the point where the optic nerves cross) can cause visual disturbances. These may include blurred vision, double vision (diplopia), loss of peripheral vision, or changes in visual acuity.
  • Hearing loss and ear-related symptoms: Tumors in the skull base can affect the structures of the inner ear, leading to hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), or vertigo (dizziness).
  • Changes in facial appearance: As the tumor grows, it may cause changes in the shape or appearance of the face, such as asymmetry or swelling.
  • Facial pain or numbness: Depending on the tumor's location, patients may experience facial pain or numbness. This can involve the cheeks, jaw, forehead, or other areas of the face.
  • Fluid draining from the ear: In some cases, a tumor in the parotid gland can obstruct the normal drainage of fluid from the ear, leading to fluid discharge.
  • Nasal congestion and sinus problems: Tumors in the skull base can block the nasal passages and sinuses, leading to chronic nasal congestion, sinusitis, frequent sinus infections, or recurrent nosebleeds.
  • Difficulty swallowing or speaking: Tumors located in the throat or the base of the tongue can cause difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) or speaking. These symptoms may worsen over time.
  • Changes in voice: Skull base tumors can affect the vocal cords or nerves responsible for voice production, leading to hoarseness, voice changes, or difficulty speaking.
  • Swelling or protrusion of the eye: In some cases, skull base tumors can cause the eye to bulge forward (proptosis) or result in swelling around the eye.
  • Neck pain or stiffness: Tumors in the skull base may extend into the neck region, causing pain, stiffness, or limited range of motion.
  • General symptoms: Patients with skull base cancer may also experience weight loss, fatigue, loss of appetite, or other non-specific symptoms commonly associated with cancer.