Sinus and Skull Base Tumors
If you or a loved one has a sinus or skull base tumor, it is important to understand your treatment options. Houston Rhinologist Dr. Arjuna Kuperan is a Board Certified Otolaryngologist (ENT) specializing in treating patients with all types of sinus and skull base tumors.
WHAT IS A SINUS AND SKULL BASE TUMOR?
Sinus and skull base tumors originate from one of the sinuses or extend from the brain into the sinuses. Sinus and skull base tumors are relatively common, but they can be benign (non-cancerous). Sinonasal cancers (malignant tumors) occur in approximately 1 in 500,000 to 1 in 1,000,000 people.1 There are many types of sinus and skull base tumors, some of which can be quite complex. Determining the type of tumor, and performing a small biopsy to learn if it is benign or malignant, is critical to creating an effective treatment plan.
In general, benign tumors are usually easily surgically resected. However, it is important to seek treatment because they can grow to sizes where the eye and brain can be invaded — leading to permanent vision loss or neurologic impairment. Malignant tumors, in many cases, are treatable with radiation, chemotherapy, surgery, or some combination of these therapeutic modalities. Malignant sinus and skull base tumors are very serious, and can be fatal if untreated.
UNDERSTANDING SINUS AND SKULL BASE TUMORS
If a sinus or skull base tumor is suspected it is important to first obtain a biopsy and confirm if it is benign or malignant. It is impossible to determine if a tumor is benign or malignant just by looking at it or with radiologic imaging. Some malignant tumors can grow rapidly and spread to other parts of the body if not managed aggressively. Since there are so many different types of sinus and skull base tumors a biopsy is critical to determine its specific subtype. Sinus and skull base tumors are often idiopathic, which means that there is no known cause, but they are sometimes caused by repeated exposure to certain industrial toxins.
SYMPTOMS OF SINUS AND SKULL BASE TUMORS
Initial symptoms may mimic those of a sinus infection. More specific symptoms can include:2
- Sudden nosebleeds, typically from one side
- Uncharacteristic nasal blockage on one side
- Facial pressure and pain on one side of the face
- Persistent headaches, especially on one side
- Vision problems, including eye bulging, watery eyes, or double vision
- Loss of smell
TREATING SINUS AND SKULL BASE TUMORS
If you are experiencing symptoms, or have been diagnosed with a sinus or skull base tumor, it is very important to seek treatment from an experienced Rhinologist. A sinus or skull base tumor specialist such as Dr. Kuperan can evaluate your symptoms to give you an accurate diagnosis and a customized treatment plan.
The first step is a consultation appointment during which Dr. Kuperan will utilize nasal endoscopy, which is a scope with a small camera, to look inside your sinus passages. If he detects a tumor, you may receive an MRI or a CT scan so he can further evaluate factors such as the size and invasiveness of the tumor. Depending on his findings, a biopsy may be performed in our Houston office in order to recommend the best treatment plan for you.
If it is determined that a surgical resection is needed, Dr. Kuperan will typically perform a minimally invasive endoscopic procedure. This means that he will approach the tumor through your nostrils, utilizing specialized equipment. He can perform an endoscopic anterior skull base resection if your tumor extends into or from the skull base. These types of procedures involve no visible incisions or scars. Dr. Kuperan’s goal in every sinus or skull base tumor procedure is to remove 100% of the tumor without disrupting adjacent structures. Malignant sinus tumors may require postoperative radiation treatment to ensure a good outcome.
Sinus or skull base tumor surgery is complex and there are very few Rhinologists who have the training and experience with these types of procedures that Dr. Kuperan has. He is dedicated to utilizing his extensive skills and expertise to create a customized surgical plan for each patient in order to quickly and safely remove sinus or skull base tumors.
1 American Head and Neck Society. Sinonasal Malignancy / Skull Base Surgery. Available: https://www.ahns.info/resources/education/patient_education/skullbase/ Accessed January 22, 2020.
2 Mayo Clinic. Nasal and paranasal tumors. Available: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/nasal-paranasal-tumors/symptoms-causes/syc-20354136 Accessed January 22, 2020.
Dr. Arjuna Kuerpan has either authored or reviewed and approved this content.