Craniopharyngioma (patient information)

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ICD-10 D44.4
ICD-9 237.0
ICD-O: 9350/1
DiseasesDB 3153
MedlinePlus 000345
MeSH D003397



What are the symptoms?

Who is at highest risk?


When to seek urgent medical care?

Treatment options

Diseases with similar symptoms

Where to find medical care for craniopharyngioma?


What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?

Craniopharyngioma On the Web

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Risk calculators and risk factors for Craniopharyngioma

Editor-in-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D.  ; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Marjan Khan M.B.B.S.[1]


Craniopharyngioma is a benign tumor that develops near the pituitary gland. It doesn't have any early symptoms. With the development of the tumor, they may grow into the pituitary gland, optic chiasm, optic nerves, or nearby fluid -filled spaces in the brain. Many functions including hormone making, growth, and vision may be affected. Frequent symptoms include increased thirst, anorexia, balance disorder, headache and vision loss. Treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of them.

What are the symptoms of craniopharyngioma?

Early craniopharyngioma does not have any symptoms. As the tumor grows larger, functions about hormone making, growth, and vision may be affected.[1]

Symptoms by increasing the pressure on the brain

Symptoms by disrupting the function of the pituitary gland

Symptoms by damaging the optic nerve

Other health problems may also cause these symptoms. Only a doctor can tell for sure. A person with any of these symptoms should tell the doctor so that the problems can be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.[2]

Who is at highest risk?

The cause of craniopharyngioma is not clear at present. More studies need to done about it.[1]

When to seek urgent medical care?

Call your doctor if there are any signs of increased intracranial pressure such as headache, nausea, vomiting or imbalance, any visual changes, or increased thirst and urination, or poor growth in a child.


Treatment options

  • Patients with craniopharyngioma have many treatment options.
  • The selection depends on the size, location of the tumor.
  • The options are surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these methods.
  • Before treatment starts, ask your health care team about possible side effects and how treatment may change your normal activities.
  • Side effect may not be the same for each person, and they may change from one treatment session to the next.
  • Surgery: The feasibility of surgery depends on the size, the location of the tumor. The types of surgery include transsphenoidal surgery and craniotomy.[4]
  • Radiation therapy: This is a cancer treatment to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing by using high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation.7841085
  • Chemotherapy: The treatment is to use drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing.

Diseases with similar symptoms


Because the cause of the disease is not clear, the preventive measure is unknown.

What to expect (Outook/Prognosis)?

  • In general as a benign tumor, the prognosis of craniopharyngioma is good. [3]
  • The outlook depends on:
  • Whether or not the tumor can be removed by surgery.
  • The neurological deficits and hormonal imbalances caused by the tumor and the treatment
  • The patient’s general health


  1. 1.0 1.1 . PMID 26389237. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. Lopes M (October 2017). "The 2017 World Health Organization classification of tumors of the pituitary gland: a summary". Acta Neuropathol. 134 (4): 521–535. doi:10.1007/s00401-017-1769-8. PMID 28821944. Vancouver style error: initials (help)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Zacharia BE, Bruce SS, Goldstein H, Malone HR, Neugut AI, Bruce JN (August 2012). "Incidence, treatment and survival of patients with craniopharyngioma in the surveillance, epidemiology and end results program". Neuro-oncology. 14 (8): 1070–8. doi:10.1093/neuonc/nos142. PMC 3408265. PMID 22735773.
  4. Klimo P, Venable GT, Boop FA, Merchant TE (May 2015). "Recurrent craniopharyngioma after conformal radiation in children and the burden of treatment". J Neurosurg Pediatr. 15 (5): 499–505. doi:10.3171/2014.10.PEDS14384. PMID 25700121.