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The UCLA Brain Tumor Program treats all forms of brain tumors, including rare conditions such as skull base tumors. From renowned skull base surgeons to incision-less stereotactic radiosurgery, we offer the best possible care.
What are Skull Base Tumors?
Skull base tumors form in the area under the brain and the bottom part of the skull. Most of these tumors are noncancerous (benign). However, their close proximity to nerves and major blood vessels can put you at risk for life-threatening complications.
Your skull base is made up of multiple bony structures on which your brain sits. It includes the area behind your eyes and nose and forms the bony ridge in the back of your head.
As one of the nation’s leading brain tumor programs, UCLA specializes in treating skull base tumors. Our team of world-class brain tumor imaging experts uses advanced techniques to create three-dimensional images of your brain. Doing so ensures you receive the most accurate diagnosis and precise treatments.
Your care may include new treatments and techniques that are not yet widely available. Our recent partnership with House Clinic makes UCLA one of the nation's leading skull base disorder research centers. Learn more about research and clinical trials.
What Causes Skull Base Tumors?
We don’t know exactly what causes skull base tumors. However, some people face a higher risk for developing skull base tumors than others. This situation is especially true if you have certain genetic conditions, such as neurofibromatosis-2 (a type of neurofibroma).
Skull Base Tumor Symptoms
As the tumor grows, it puts pressure on your nerves or blocks the flow of fluid around your brain. Depending on the tumor’s size and location, this can cause a range of symptoms.
Symptoms can include:
- Pressure or numbness in your face or the area surrounding your nose (sinuses)
- Chronic headache
- Vision problems, including blurry or double vision
- Loss of sensation, such as smelling and hearing
- Sudden surge in the electrical patterns in your brain (seizure)
- Behavior or personality changes
- Difficulty opening your mouth
Different types of brain tumors can cause similar symptoms. Some people experience symptoms similar to a brain tumor when in fact they are experiencing a central nervous system disorder, such as a stroke. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s best to visit the UCLA Neurology Clinics so you can receive an accurate diagnosis.
Diagnosing Skull Base Tumors
You may receive one or more tests, including:
- Neurological exam: A neurological exam includes simple tests to assess your nerves, senses and mental state. This exam helps us rule out other problems, such as a stroke.
- Imaging tests: UCLA is among the top programs in the country when it comes to brain tumor imaging. Our tools include tests developed at UCLA, such as positron emission tomography (PET scan). This level of sophistication allows us to gather the most detailed information about the tumor and deliver the most precise diagnosis.
- Advanced tissue analysis: Tumor tissue is analyzed by a nationally renowned neuropathologist who specializes in brain tumors. Analyzing your tissue at a molecular level provides the greatest accuracy and detail in diagnosing the condition.
Learn more about diagnosis and imaging.
Skull Base Tumor Treatments Available at the UCLA Brain Tumor Center
UCLA delivers the best available treatments with a level of accuracy that few centers can match.
You may receive one or more types of treatment:
- Clinical trials: Our recent partnership with House Clinic makes UCLA ones of the nation's leading skull base disorder research centers. You may be eligible to participate in research and clinical trials.
- Radiation therapy: We use advanced technology, such as the Novalis Tx® Stereotactic Radiosurgery System, which our team helped develop. This system rapidly delivers high doses of radiation while sparing healthy brain tissue. Learn more about radiation oncology.
- Neurosurgery: We use pioneering surgical techniques and advanced technology to perform the safest, most effective neurosurgery. Our surgeons are among the nation’s top experts in treating certain types of skull base tumors, such as acoustic neuroma.
Drawing from our broad range of treatments, we use a team approach to determine the best therapies for you and in what order you should receive them.