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Pediatric Craniopharyngioma

A craniopharyngioma can affect the brain’s vision, behavior and gland secretion areas and requires complex treatment due to its location in the brain. At Children’s Health, we have deep experience and the range of specialists needed to treat this type of brain tumor.

What is a Pediatric Craniopharyngioma?

Most craniopharyngiomas are non-cancerous (benign) brain tumors. Yet even though they are non-cancerous, they can be hard to treat and cause many problems because of their location and relationship to deep and noble structures.

As a non-cancerous tumor, craniopharyngioma does not spread throughout the body, but it can grow larger. When these tumors grow, they can put pressure on various parts of the brain, including those that affect a child's sight and behavior. The tumor can also affect a child’s hormones, which may cause such problems as delayed puberty, early puberty, obesity and other symptoms.

Craniopharyngiomas make up about 5% to 10% of all brain tumors in children.

What are the signs and symptoms of a Pediatric Craniopharyngioma?

Depending on the parts of the brain that the tumor affects, the signs and symptoms can vary. They may include:

  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Problems with vision (seeing)
  • Delayed puberty
  • Poor growth
  • Other signs of hormone changes

How is a Pediatric Craniopharyngioma diagnosed?

This condition usually is diagnosed with an MRI of the brain. We also test a child’s hormones to see if the levels are within the normal range.

What causes a Pediatric Craniopharyngioma?

Children may be born with this type of tumor or have the tendency to develop it. Scientists don’t know exactly what causes craniopharyngioma.

How is a Pediatric Craniopharyngioma treated?

Treatment for this type of brain tumor varies depending on the tumor’s make-up and location. A child may need radiation, different types of surgery or multiple kinds of treatment.

Depending on the tumor’s location and type, early surgery can result in a long-term cure, but it can also cause challenging side effects. Sometimes, to save their sight, hormones and other important brain functions, we may delay surgery or do a partial surgery and add radiation to your child’s treatment. We often approach craniopharyngioma more like a chronic condition that needs to be followed carefully.

Pediatric Craniopharyngioma Doctors and Providers

Children with this condition often need specialized care. Our team of experts works together to tailor treatment to each child’s needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is my child with craniopharyngioma going to die?

    This tumor is typically treatable, and most children live well into adulthood.

  • If my child has craniopharyngioma, will their hormones develop properly?

    We often can preserve a child’s hormones. If a child’s hormone levels are affected during treatment, they can take hormones by mouth so that they can grow and lead a full life and, if they want, have children.