Hemangiopericytomas are a type of rare tumor involving blood vessels and soft tissues. Hemangiopericytomas often are painless masses and may not have any associated symptoms. These tumors can originate anywhere in the body where there are capillaries. The most common locations reported are the lower extremities, pelvic area, head, and neck. They can be either benign or malignant, and can metastasize or spread to other areas in the body, primarily the lungs and bones.
Though rare, hemangiopericytomas can be located in the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses. Their prognosis is better because they tend to be less aggressive and do not metastasize.
The preferred surgical treatment at UPMC for hemangiopericytomas in the head and neck is the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA) to remove the tumor. This innovative, minimally invasive technique uses the nose and nasal cavities as natural corridors to access hard-to-reach or previously inoperable tumors. EEA offers the benefits of no incisions to heal, no disfigurement to the patient, and a faster recovery time. If complementary treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy are needed, those therapies can begin soon after surgery.
Your physician will perform a physical exam and ask you about symptoms you are experiencing.
These tumors usually are painless masses, often without any associated symptoms. They can remain undetected for long periods of time, due to the fact that they originate in soft tissue that is flexible and easily makes room for the new mass. Symptoms are likely to be associated with an enlarging mass and can mimic meningiomas around the brain and skull base, causing neurologic disturbances.
Imaging studies will reveal the exact location and size of the mass, as well as the extent of spread. Biopsy of the tissue allows for the identification of specific characteristics.
Surgical removal of the tumor is the primary treatment. Hemangiopericytomas of the skull base may be approached directly by using the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA). This approach allows surgeons to see and access the tumor well without making incisions to the face or skull. The tumor is removed through the nose and nasal cavities, and recovery time is faster than with a traditional approach. Patients who receive surgery with the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach may be able to begin chemotherapy or radiation therapy soon after surgery.
At UPMC, we take a 360° Approach to treatment when evaluating each patient—looking at their conditions from every direction—to find the path that is least disruptive to the patient's brain, critical nerves, and ability to return to normal functioning. Our neurosurgical team may recommend a combination of surgical and non-surgical approaches to maximize the benefits of surgery while minimizing risks.
Surgery may be followed by radiation therapy to prevent recurrence, usually localized to the postoperative site and particularly in cases where the tumor was not totally removed.
Chemotherapy is also effective for treating hemangiopericytomas and is often prescribed after surgery.