Skull base patients come from all walks of life. There are few environemental factors that predispose patients to most skull pathologies. Thus patients can be from the very young to the elderly. The problems that arise from most skull bas tumours often require multiple clinicians, with differeent skills and training.

Typical Consultation Process

The first step in the discvoery of skull base tumour is often from a clinican who picks up the early symptoms. This may be from an opthalmologist, who detects vision loss at the level of the optic nerves, or an endocrinologist, who identifies an unexplained over or undersecretion of pituitary hormones.

  • Seeing a skull base surgeon with experience is critical
  • Both computed tomograpghy (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are common investigations for most patients
  • Endscopic examination of the nose and ear are often part of the assessment. This is easily and comfoprtably performed under local anesthetic spray in a consulting rooms (not the operating room)
  • An input from a multi-disciplanary team (MDT) is often important. This very differen to a classic Head & Neck cancer MDT, as the surgical input needs to come from surgons invovlved in skull base and neurosurgical backgrounds.
  • Often, surgery and other therapies are just the beginning of patient care. Ongoing surveillance and monitoring is required, even after successful treatment

Patient Experiences

I had a seizure in late February 2016, rushed to hospital at Royal Prince Alfred. A week later I was told I had a brain tumor. I was referred to Dr Jonker. The day I first met with him I was still in shock, at 42yrs and a single dad, life turned upside down for me. Dr Jonker immediately made me feel at ease with his obvious expertise. Dr Jonker performed awake surgery on me soon after to remove my tumor and I was out of hospital within 3 days. Dr Jonker and his surgical team did an amazing job in looking after me. Awake brain surgery is an amazing experience to say the least. I am very lucky to have had Dr Jonker as my neurosurgeon, extremely professional. He has a certain calmness that made me feel at ease. I would completely recommend him as a neurosurgeon.

Philipr Adams.

My name is Fares Daoud, 63 years old here is my story. I was diagnosed with cancer in my nose and my neck lymph glands, I went through chemo and radio therapy, because of that I lost more than 40 kg, also I lost my strength. The doctors in Westmead hospital that my cancer is curable but after 6 months it recurrence and it was terminal this time and you have between 6-9 months to live, I told them what a surgery they told me it very risky and very hard to do it and you might die during the operation because of internal bleeding. No one can imagine the impact and how black the life become, I decide not to give up and start researching for other option like surgery, I booked with two surgeon, they told me the same thing. While I and my family members trying to find some thing to help even overseas, my sister gave me a phone no of a very professional surgeon of head and neck cancer, I called his room and explain my situation to the receptionist, she told me the doctor operate only on brain cancer but she gave me a phone no of other surgeon may help me, I took the no and called and talked to the receptionist to book, she told me the first available appointment is after four months, I told her I might be dead that time she said sorry but if any cancel I’ll call you, I was thinking not to make it but some thing told me to make it. After very hard time of thinking of death and feel hopeless doing any thing to prevent my death, one day in the morning I received a phone call telling me that I have an appointment with (Professor Richard Harvey), I was totally forgotten about it, again I didn’t want to confirm the appointment but i said let me try one more time, I said ok I’m coming, I went to Prof. Harvey page on internet and I found he is doing exactly the surgery I need, it give me some hope that day. The day of appointment I took all my test ( CT,MRI,PET) with me and gave them to the reception how gave to him before seeing me, after a while he called me with warm welcome, he said to me I’ve looked to all your tests and I can’t see any reason preventing me from operating to get rid of your cancer from both your nose and your neck, he said I will do some fresh tests to decide what to do exactly. After I finished the tests I met him and he told me he will do the surgery to my nose and his college (Dr Julia Crawford) will operate on your neck lymph glands cancer, also told me it will be a series of operation, I said ok I don’t mind since you are going to save my live. Both Prof. Harvey and Dr. Crawford start on July 2016 and finished on January 2017, they successfully got rid of my cancer who was terminal, later there was a recurrence of cancer next to my voice box ,It was detected bu Dr Crawford, also she successfully removed it. Now I’m cancer free due to last PET test and that is because of their high skilled and very professional they save my life. From me, my family and my kids a very big thank you.

Fares Daoud.

I have great confidence in and appreciation for Dr Ben Panizza and the Princess Alexandra Hospital Head and Neck Clinic who studied and determined the best way to approach a cancer problem I have. Dr Ben performed the surgery endoscopically and so far after two follow-up visits over a year the area remains clear.

Berkely F.

I was referred to Ben by Dr Tony Parker after persistent ear pain and an MRI showed an 8th cranial nerve tumour. Dr Panizza is extremely upfront and straightforward regarding what is going on, what the problem is, how he intends to fix it, and what the possible complications are. He won’t mess you around or tell you that everything will be easy or perfect, but I appreciate his frank approach. He worked in conjunction with Dr Martin Wood to complete an 8 hour operation to remove the tumour with great success, minimal (almost no) residual facial nerve damage. I was home four days later. His bedside manner whilst I was in hospital was fantastic. I still see him every 12 months for review of some other tumours and find he always takes time to carefully review my scans, discuss any changes to symptoms, and propose a plan for the next 12 months. He is a wonderful doctor that I would recommend highly.


I owe Dr. Davidson my life. I can’t thank him enough. I sought his help after the first dr. Said my tumor was inoperable. He’s very helpful and empathetic. Strongly recommend seeking his opinion.


Banner photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash