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Treatment for craniopharyngioma

Men and women discussing brain tumours

This page tells you about the treatment for a rare type of brain tumour called craniopharyngioma. You can read about

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Craniopharyngioma tumours are a rare type of brain tumour most often diagnosed in children, teenagers and young adults. 

Surgery

The first treatment is surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible if it is solid. Some tumours are filled with fluid. They are called cystic tumours and cannot usually be completely removed. The surgeon may

  • Remove most of the tumour, which is known as a subtotal resection
  • Insert a tube to remove fluid from a cystic tumour
  • Create a tunnel from the tumour into one of the natural fluid filled spaces in the brain

Radiotherapy

You will also probably have radiotherapy after surgery. In some cases (for example if the tumour is small), your specialist may suggest stereotactic radiotherapy, which is very carefully targeted at the tumour. If your tumour comes back after treatment, you are likely to have radiotherapy, if you did not have it before. Radiotherapy can slow down the growth of the tumour and keep it under control for a while. Your doctor will need to see you for some years after your treatment. This is to make sure that you are well and that there is no sign of the tumour coming back.

 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the Treating brain tumours section.

 

 

About craniopharyngioma

Craniopharyngioma tumours are most often diagnosed in children, teenagers and young adults.

 

Surgery

The first treatment is surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible if it is solid. Some tumours are filled with fluid. They are called cystic tumours and cannot usually be completely removed.

The surgeon may

  • Remove most of the tumour, which is known as a subtotal resection
  • Insert a tube to remove fluid from a cystic tumour
  • Create a tunnel from the tumour into one of the natural fluid filled spaces in the brain (the ventricles)
 

Radiotherapy

You will also probably have radiotherapy after surgery. In some cases (for example if the tumour is small), your specialist may suggest stereotactic radiotherapy, which is very carefully targeted at the tumour.

If your tumour comes back after treatment, you are likely to have radiotherapy, if you did not have it before. Radiotherapy can slow down the growth of the tumour and keep it under control for a while.

 

Follow up

Your doctor will need to see you for some years after your treatment. This is to make sure that you are well and that to check for any signs of the tumour coming back.

 

More information about craniopharyngiomas

You can find detailed information about treatments for brain tumours in our section about brain tumour treatment.

You can find information about the outlook (prognosis) for these tumours on the brain tumour statistics and outlook page

You are also welcome to contact the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040. Lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. 

You can contact one of the brain tumour organisations or look at our brain tumour reading list. If you want to find people to share experiences with online, you could use CancerChat, our online forum.

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Updated: 9 December 2013