What is craniopharyngioma?

Craniopharyngioma is a relatively rare, slow-growing, usually benign brain tumour.

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How common is it and at what age does it occur?

The incidence of craniopharyngioma is 0.13-2 per 100,000 people per year. The age peak is biphasic: between 5-14 and 50-74 years.

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What are the symptoms and signs of craniopharyngioma?

The most common manifestations of these tumours are:

  • initially asymptomatic
  • headache
  • nausea, vomiting
  • visual disturbances- loss of vision
  • fatigue
  • slow growth in children and delayed puberty
  • obesity
  • hypogonadism (menstrual disorders in women, erectile dysfunction in men)
  • polyuria, polydipsia
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How is craniopharyngioma diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made by physical examination, history, MRI, biopsy and specialised endocrine tests to detect possible hormone deficiencies.

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How is craniopharyngioma treated?

The treatment of craniopharyngiomas depends on their size, how fast they grow, their mass effect, age and comorbidities, and the patient’s preference. It usually involves a combination of:

  • surgical excision and
  • radiotherapy.

However, both their treatment and their diagnosis are determined by a multidisciplinary team which includes an endocrinologist, neurosurgeon, radiologist, oncologist, pathologist and is carried out in a specialized centre.

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