UPMC Skull Base Think Tank Publishes Manuscript

A person reading a journal

One of the first manuscripts from the UPMC Skull Base Think Tank has been published in JAMA-Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.

The UPMC Skull Base Think Tank is a North American network of (14 or so) leading academic institutions with ties to the University of Pittsburgh that began in 2021. At least one member of the participating institutions must have trained at Pittsburgh for residency or fellowship.

The Think Tank serves as a collaborative partnership for research and clinical innovation for member institutions, including otolaryngologists and neurosurgeons. Several important research ideas focused on sinonasal cancers and skull base tumors have been investigated and published from this group. 

The latest one was a collaboration between Dr. Eric Wang, MD, Professor, Department of Otolaryngology, Ophthalmology, and Neurosurgery and Executive Vice Chair, and Dr. Garret Choby, MD, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery and Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The article, entitled, “Multicenter Survival Analysis and Application of an Olfactory Neuroblastoma Staging Modification Incorporating Hyams Grade,” focuses on a rare skull base cancer, olfactory neuroblastoma, and the development of a new staging system to predict survival outcomes.

“Olfactory neuroblastoma is a rare sinonasal cancer that occurs when a cancerous tumor occurs at the junction of the sinuses and brain,” explained Dr. Choby. “Traditional staging systems for this tumor poorly predict patient survival and risk for tumor recurrence.”

In this study, data was collected on 256 patients from nine North American academic skull base centers that belong to the Skull Base Think Tank and were treated between 2005 – 2021. The authors created a novel tumor staging system incorporating Hyams grade, a measure of tumor biologic behavior, into traditional staging systems. By incorporating this factor, the novel modifications of the staging systems were better able to predict patient survival and risk for tumor recurrence.

“These findings may allow physicians to recommend specific additional therapies to high-risk patients and help patients understand their long-term risk for developing tumor recurrence,” Dr. Choby said.

JAMA-Otolaryngology issued a commentary highlighting the importance of the work.