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Hemangiopericytoma Tumors

Hemangiopericytoma is a type of rare tumor involving blood vessels and soft tissues.

Learn about the treatment options for Hemangiopericytoma Tumors at the UPMC Pituitary Center of Excellence.

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What is Hemangiopericytoma?

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 hemangiopericytoma tumors can originate anywhere in the body where there are capillaries. The most common locations reported are the brain, lower extremities, pelvic area, head, and neck.

Hemangiopericytomas can be either benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Malignant hemangiopericytomas can metastasize or spread to other areas in the body, primarily the lungs and bones.

Hemangiopericytomas can be located in the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses. Though rare, their prognosis is better because they tend to be less aggressive and do not metastasize.

At UPMC, the preferred surgical treatment for hemangiopericytomas in the head and neck 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

Following surgery, you may also be treated with a boost of Gamma Knife® radiosurgery. This is a painless procedure that uses hundreds of highly focused radiation beams to target tumors and lesions within the brain, with no surgical incision.

Diagnosing Hemangiopericytoma

Your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask you about symptoms you are experiencing.

Hemangiopericytoma symptoms

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.

When symptoms occur, they are likely to be associated with an enlarging mass. They can mimic meningiomas around the brain and skull base, causing neurologic disturbances.

Imaging and radiology testing for hemangiopericytoma

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.

Hemangiopericytoma Treatments

UPMC's neurosurgical team may recommend a combination of surgical and non-surgical approachesfor hemangiopericytoma treatment.

Minimally invasive surgery

Surgical removal of the tumor is the primary treatment.

Hemangiopericytomas of the skull base may be approached directly using the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA). This state-of-the-art, minimally invasive approach allows surgeons to access the tumor through the natural corridor of the nose, without making an open incision. Surgeons then remove the hemangiopericytoma through the nose and nasal cavities.

EEA offers the benefits of no incisions to heal, no disfigurement, and a faster recovery time.

If you need complementary treatments, such as radiation, those therapies can begin soon after EEA surgery.

When evaluating you for treatment, our neurosurgeons will look at your hemangiopericytoma from every direction. We will find the surgical path that is least disruptive to your brain, critical nerves, and ability to return to normal functioning.

Gamma Knife® radiosurgery

Gamma Knife radiosurgery is a painless procedure that uses hundreds of highly focused radiation beams to target tumors and lesions within the brain, with no surgical incision.

Gamma Knife treatment may be an option for people with residual tumor after surgery or for those who show delayed tumor progression despite an initial multipronged treatment. Gamma Knife is used to non-invasively boost the effectiveness of radiation delivered to the hemangiopericytoma tumor.

As the nation's leading provider of Gamma Knife procedures, UPMC has treated more than 12,000 patients with tumors, vascular malformations, pain, and other functional problems.

Our team may also perform stereotactic radiosurgery using the Cyberknife and other linear accelerator-based systems.

Radiation therapy and chemotherapy

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 malignant hemangiopericytomas and is often prescribed after surgery.