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Childhood Craniopharyngioma Treatment (PDQ®)

Health Professional Version

Background Information About Childhood Craniopharyngioma

Incidence and Presentation

Craniopharyngiomas are relatively rare pediatric tumors, accounting for about 6% of all intracranial tumors in children.[1-3] They are believed to be congenital in origin, arising from ectodermal remnants, Rathke cleft, or other embryonal epithelium in the sellar and/or parasellar area. No predisposing factors have been identified.

Because craniopharyngiomas occur in the region of the pituitary gland, endocrine function and growth may be affected. Additionally, the close proximity of the tumor to the optic nerves and chiasm may result in vision problems. Some patients present with obstructive hydrocephalus due to tumor obstruction of the third ventricle. Extremely rarely, the tumor may predominate in the posterior fossa with presenting symptoms of headache, diplopia, ataxia, and hearing loss.[4]

Prognosis

Regardless of the treatment modality, long-term survival is approximately 85% in children [2,3] with 5- and 10-year overall survival rates greater than 90%.[5-8]

References

  1. Bunin GR, Surawicz TS, Witman PA, et al.: The descriptive epidemiology of craniopharyngioma. J Neurosurg 89 (4): 547-51, 1998. [PUBMED Abstract]
  2. Karavitaki N, Wass JA: Craniopharyngiomas. Endocrinol Metab Clin North Am 37 (1): 173-93, ix-x, 2008. [PUBMED Abstract]
  3. Garnett MR, Puget S, Grill J, et al.: Craniopharyngioma. Orphanet J Rare Dis 2: 18, 2007. [PUBMED Abstract]
  4. Zhou L, Luo L, Xu J, et al.: Craniopharyngiomas in the posterior fossa: a rare subgroup, diagnosis, management and outcomes. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 80 (10): 1150-4, 2009. [PUBMED Abstract]
  5. Muller HL: Childhood craniopharyngioma. Recent advances in diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Horm Res 69 (4): 193-202, 2008. [PUBMED Abstract]
  6. Müller HL: Childhood craniopharyngioma--current concepts in diagnosis, therapy and follow-up. Nat Rev Endocrinol 6 (11): 609-18, 2010. [PUBMED Abstract]
  7. Sanford RA, Muhlbauer MS: Craniopharyngioma in children. Neurol Clin 9 (2): 453-65, 1991. [PUBMED Abstract]
  8. Zacharia BE, Bruce SS, Goldstein H, et al.: Incidence, treatment and survival of patients with craniopharyngioma in the surveillance, epidemiology and end results program. Neuro Oncol 14 (8): 1070-8, 2012. [PUBMED Abstract]
  • Updated: August 12, 2014