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Childhood Craniopharyngioma Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - Treatment Option Overview

There are different types of treatment for children with craniopharyngioma.

Different types of treatments are available for children with craniopharyngioma. Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment), and some are being tested in clinical trials. A treatment clinical trial is a research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with tumors. When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment.

Because tumors in children are rare, taking part in a clinical trial should be considered. Clinical trials are taking place in many parts of the country. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site. Choosing the most appropriate treatment is a decision that ideally involves the patient, family, and health care team.

Children with craniopharyngioma should have their treatment planned by a team of health care providers who are experts in treating brain tumors in children.

Treatment will be overseen by a pediatric oncologist, a doctor who specializes in treating children with tumors. The pediatric oncologist works with other pediatric healthcare providers who are experts in treating children with brain tumors and who specialize in certain areas of medicine. These may include the following specialists:

  • Neurosurgeon.
  • Radiation oncologist.
  • Neurologist.
  • Endocrinologist.
  • Ophthalmologist.
  • Rehabilitation specialist.
  • Psychologist.
  • Social worker.
  • Nurse specialist.

Childhood brain tumors may cause symptoms that begin before diagnosis and continue for months or years.

Symptoms caused by the tumor may begin before diagnosis. These symptoms may continue for months or years. It is important to talk with your child's doctors about symptoms caused by the tumor that may continue after treatment.

Some treatments for tumors cause side effects months or years after treatment has ended.

Side effects from tumor treatment that begin during or after treatment and continue for months or years are called late effects. Late effects of tumor treatment may include the following:

  • Physical problems such as vision problems and obesity.
  • Changes in mood, feelings, thinking, learning, or memory.
  • Second cancers (new types of cancer).

For example, serious late effects of radiation therapy for craniopharyngioma may include the following:

  • Pituitary gland stops making hormones.
  • Stroke or blood vessel problems.
  • Blindness.
  • Second cancer in the area that received radiation.

Some late effects may be treated or controlled. It is important to talk with your child's doctors about the effects tumor treatment can have on your child. (See the PDQ summary on Late Effects of Treatment for Childhood Cancer for more information).

Five types of treatment are used:

Surgery

The way the surgery is done depends on the size of the tumor and where it is in the brain. It also depends on whether the tumor has grown into nearby tissue in a finger-like way. The types of surgery include the following:

  • Transsphenoidal surgery: A type of surgery in which the instruments are inserted into part of the brain by going through an incision (cut) made under the upper lip or at the bottom of the nose between the nostrils and then through the sphenoid bone (a butterfly-shaped bone at the base of the skull).
    cdr0000680518.jpg
    Transsphenoidal surgery. An endoscope and a curette are inserted through the nose and sphenoid sinus to remove cancer from the pituitary gland.
  • Craniotomy: Surgery to remove the tumor through an opening made in the skull.
    cdr0000691155.jpg
    Craniotomy: An opening is made in the skull and a piece of the skull is removed to show part of the brain.
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WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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