Craniopharyngioma is a brain tumor that commonly affects children. These tumors grow in the area of the pituitary gland and optic nerve and frequently grow up into the base of a child’s brain. They grow from cells that, in the developing embryo, had helped to form the normal pituitary gland, which secretes various hormones into the bloodstream.
Patients with craniopharyngioma are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center through the Brain Tumor Center. Continue reading to learn more about craniopharyngioma or visit the Brain Tumor Center homepage to learn about our expertise with this condition.
Craniopharyngiomas can cause symptoms in one of three ways:
When some children with large tumors are initially diagnosed, they may be quite ill, with increased pressure in the brain and not much time for additional diagnostic testing. In this case, surgery must be performed immediately to decrease intracranial pressure.
If time is available, additional diagnostic tests include:
After all tests are completed, doctors will be able to outline the best treatment options.
Neurosurgery is almost always used to removed as much of the tumor as possible. Even if the tumor is completely removed, the tumor could re-grow from small fragments buried deeper into the brain that cannot be seen at the time of the operation.
Focused radiation treatments (stereotactic radiosurgery, Gamma Knife or most often proton beam) can be used to treat areas of the tumor that cannot be removed surgically.
There can be side effects related to the tumor itself or its treatment. Knowing what these side effects are can help physicians prepare for and, in some cases, prevent these symptoms from occurring.
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