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Cancer (Oncology)

Craniopharyngiomas

A craniopharyngioma is a slow-growing benign brain tumor. It develops near the pituitary gland, and may be part solid and partly filled with fluid. Craniopharyngiomas usually affect children from about 5 - 14 years of age, but sometimes can occur in adults. Boys and girls have the same risk of developing this tumor. Even though the tumor is benign, it is usually treated because its growth affects other parts of the brain. There are no known risk factors for childhood craniopharyngioma.

The prognosis for most people with craniopharyngioma is good. About 80-90 percent of patients can be cured if the tumor can be surgically removed or treated with radiation. However, even if the craniopharyngioma can be removed, some patients are left with hormone and vision problems caused by the condition. These tumors can recur, and most recurrences happen within the first two years.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Craniopharyngioma can put increased pressure on parts of the brain, causing headache, nausea, vomiting, vision problems, and balance issues. In some cases, the tumor can press on and damage the pituitary gland, causing hormone imbalances. This results in excessive thirst, excessive urination, and stunted growth.

Treatment

Surgery is the primary treatment for craniopharyngioma. Sometimes radiation is used alongside or instead of surgery.

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