What are Dermoid and Epidermoid Tumors?
Dermoid tumors are inclusion cysts. This means they are caused by the implantation of epithelial tissue into another structure. A dermoid tumor will most frequently occur on the face, inside the skull, on the lower back, and in the ovaries. More rarely, dermoid tumors can arise in the brain, nasal sinuses, and spinal cord.
Dermoid cysts are bizarre in that they contain developmentally mature skin, complete with sweat glands, hair follicles, sometimes luxuriant clumps of long hair, and often pockets of sebum, blood, fat, bone and cartilage, nails and teeth, and thyroid tissue.
Because they contain mature tissue, these cysts are almost always benign (noncancerous). Usually solitary, they expand slowly over many years due to the central accumulation of epithelial debris and glandular secretions. These cysts are not tender unless they rupture.
Epidermoid tumors are similar in structure and origin to dermoid tumors and the two are often grouped together. Epidermoid tumors are lined with stratified squamous epithelium (skin) as dermoids are, but do not contain the additional skin appendages. Epidermoid cysts are less likely to rupture.
Dermoid and epidermoid tumor symptoms are associated with the location of the tumor and the effect of its mass on adjacent tissues. When dermoid and epidermoid tumors are found on the brain, the symptoms can include pain and vision problems.
At UPMC, the preferred surgical treatment for dermoid and epidermoid tumors in the base of the skull or upper spine is the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA). This innovative, minimally invasive technique uses the nose and nasal cavities as natural corridors to access hard-to-reach or previously inoperable tumors. Benefits of EEA include:
- No incisions to heal
- No disfigurement
- Faster recovery time
For dermoid and epidermoid cysts within the substance of the brain, the preferred surgical treatment at UPMC is Neuroendoport® surgery. Neuroendoport surgery gives surgeons access to dermoid and epidermoid tumors through a dime-size channel. This minimally invasive removal approach offers benefits such as:
- Minimal scarring
- Fewer side effects and complications
- Faster recovery times than with traditional surgery