Find A Physician

Return to Epidermoid/Dermoid Tumors Overview

More on Epidermoid/Dermoid Tumors

Hospital News

Return to Epidermoid/Dermoid Tumors Overview

More on Epidermoid/Dermoid Tumors


Health Library

Return to Epidermoid/Dermoid Tumors Overview

More on Epidermoid/Dermoid Tumors

Research and Clinical Trials

Return to Epidermoid/Dermoid Tumors Overview

More on Epidermoid/Dermoid Tumors

Clinical Services

Return to Epidermoid/Dermoid Tumors Overview

More on Epidermoid/Dermoid Tumors

Epidermoid/Dermoid Tumors

Epidermoid and dermoid tumors are slow-growing benign tumors that result from a developmental abnormality. These rare tumors occur when a certain kind of tissue in an embryo, called ectodermal tissue, becomes misplaced in the developing brain. This causes the formation of a fluid-filled cyst, called an ectodermal inclusion cyst, that makes up the tumor. Epidermoid tumors comprise one percent of brain tumors, and dermoid tumors just 0.3 percent. These tumors also are referred to as germ cell tumors because the ectodermal tissue is known as a germ layer.

Cyst characteristics and location distinguish epidermoid and dermoid tumors. Epidermoid tumors usually are located on the side of the brain or skull, while dermoid tumors are located closer to the brain's midline. The cysts of dermoid tumors include other dermal components, such as the material that makes up hair, teeth, and skin glands, while epidermoid tumors do not. Fifty percent of those with dermoid tumors will have other congenital abnormalities, while those with epidermoid tumors do not. These tumors can occur in a variety of locations, including the spine, skull, scalp, and inside the brain (intracranially).

Unlike most epidermoid and dermoid cysts, which occur spontaneously during development, spinal ectodermal inclusion cysts are caused by the displacement of skin tissue following a lumbar puncture or spinal tap, a procedure used to extract cerebrospinal fluid from the lower spine. This is a rare occurrence after a lumbar puncture, which is an extremely safe procedure.

Symptoms

The symptoms of epidermoid and dermoid tumors vary depending on their location. Cysts on the scalp and skull usually are painless, mobile, rubbery masses. Usually they only cause cosmetic problems, although cysts on the skull may penetrate into the brain. Depending on specific location, intracranial tumors may cause visual problems, seizures, pain in the face, numbness, or weakness. If the cysts rupture and spill their contents, they can cause repeated bouts of severe meningitis, with symptoms including fever, headache, and neck stiffness.

Diagnosis

Imaging studies are the key component in the diagnosis of epidermoid and dermoid brain tumors. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans are used. However, the agents usually used to distinguish tumors from normal tissue in the background do not provide contrast in ectodermal inclusion cysts, so the tumors may be indistinct.

Treatment

Chemotherapy and radiation have no effect in the treatment of these tumors, so surgical removal is the only treatment option. The removal must include the entire cyst-both the contents and the lining-and the more complete the resection, the less likely the cyst is to return. The primary concern of surgical resection is to ensure that the contents of the cyst do not spill out to irritate the brain and cause meningitis.

  • Bookmark
  • Print


eNewsletters

Hospital News


Clinical Services


Top of page