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Treating tumors at the base of the skull (cranial base) or between the brain and the face and neck (cranio-cervical junction) can be extremely complex. The surrounding areas include a concentration of vital nerves, the spinal cord and major arteries. Symptoms can affect vision, hearing, sense of smell, speech, swallowing, movement and mental faculties.
The Cranial Base Center at Massachusetts General Hospital brings together a multidisciplinary team of brain, spine and nerve tumor specialists who provide innovative, individually tailored treatments for all types of tumors and other cranial nerve disorders. Our team of physicians meets twice monthly to discuss treatment approaches for new patients as well as review complex cases.
Whatever the combination of specialists identified—neurosurgeons, radiation therapists, otolaryngologists, radiation and medical oncologists, head and neck surgeons—each patient receives coordinated care to treat for their unique diagnosis.
Many patients with cranial-base tumors undergo radiation therapy as part of their treatment. At Mass General's Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center, patients receive state-of-the-art treatment that targets their tumor and minimizes damage to nearby cells and tissue. The treatment may be lifesaving for patients whose tumors require high radiation doses that are more risky, especially so close to the brain.
The Proton Therapy Center was founded in 1962 and is the only facility of its kind in New England.
Some cranial-base tumors, even large ones, can be removed without a large incision.
Our physicians play a key role in developing advanced minimally invasive surgical techniques that allow them to access the skull base using an endoscope placed through the nose, removing tumors and treating deep lesions more safely and precisely.
The Cranial Base Center is a joint effort between the Stephen E. and Catherine Pappas Center for Neuro-Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Department of Otolaryngology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear. The center offers a complete range of services relating to cranial base disorders, including:
Our team includes a full range of specialists so we can provide complete care to patients with malignant or benign tumors and other disorders affecting the cranial base and the cranio-cervical junction:
We also treat non-tumor conditions including trauma and central spinal fluid leaks.
As needed, other Mass General and Mass Eye and Ear subspecialists may be involved in patient treatment, including clinicians from Mass General’s Neuroendocrine Clinical Center or Mass Eye and Ear's voice specialists.
Acoustic neurinoma, also referred to as acoustic neuroma or vestibular schwannoma, is a non-cancerous tumor that may develop from an overproduction of Schwann cells that press on the hearing and balance nerves in the inner ear.
A brain tumor is an abnormal growth of tissue in the brain. The tumor can either originate in the brain itself, or come from another part of the body and travel to the brain (metastasize). Brain tumors may be classified as either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous), depending on their behavior.
Advances in endoscopic equipment, and constant honing of surgical technique have improved patient outcomes for scull base tumors.
Cranial Base Center
Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care
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