Craniopharyngiomas

Craniopharyngiomas usually develop near the pituitary gland
A craniopharyngioma usually develops near the pituitary gland at the base of the brain.

A craniopharyngioma is a relatively rare, benign tumor that develops near the pituitary gland at the base of the brain. Craniopharyngiomas occur in both adults and children and affect boys and girls equally.

Although they’re benign, craniopharyngiomas can behave a bit like malignancies — when they grow they can press on and sometimes invade nearby healthy brain tissue. They can press on the optic nerves and cause problems with vision or invade the hypothalamus and pituitary gland and cause problems with hormones. (see Symptoms of Craniopharyngioma). The tumor can usually be successfully removed surgically, but it sometimes recurs and so patients must be monitored carefully in the years after surgery (see Surgery for a Craniopharyngioma). However, with complete surgical removal, craniopharyngiomas can be cured and the goal of treatment is either cure or lifelong tumor control.

What Causes Craniopharyngiomas?
Researchers don’t know exactly how or why these tumors occur, but they are thought to develop out of cells left over during fetal development — possibly from a structure called the Rathke pouch. There does not seem to be any genetic cause, and the tumors don’t run in families. There is no known way to prevent a craniopharyngioma.

Request an Appointment | Refer a Patient

 

Program Introduction with Dr. Ted Schwartz

Dr. Theodore Schwartz: Minimally Invasive Endoscopic Surgery for Pituitary Tumors, Brain Tumors, and Epilepsy
I’ve traveled around the world to dozens of professional conferences and courses — in China, India, Egypt, and more — to train many neurosurgeons in advanced techniques for treating skull base tumors. But my past two summers in Mexico have provided...

Our Care Team

  • Chairman and Neurosurgeon-in-Chief
  • Margaret and Robert J. Hariri, MD ’87, PhD ’87 Professor of Neurological Surgery
  • Vice Provost of Business Affairs and Integration
Phone: 212-746-4684
  • Vice Chair for Clinical Research
  • David and Ursel Barnes Professor in Minimally Invasive Surgery
  • Professor of Neurosurgery, Neurology, and Otolaryngology
  • Director, Center for Epilepsy and Pituitary Surgery
  • Co-Director, Surgical Neuro-oncology
Phone: 212-746-5620
  • Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery
  • Leon Levy Research Fellow
  • Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute
Phone: 646-962-3389
  • Assistant Professor of Neuroendocrinology in Neurological Surgery, Weill Cornell Medicine
Phone: 646-962-3556
  • Vice Chairman for Academic Affairs
  • Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery, Pediatric Neurosurgery
  • Associate Residency Director
Phone: 212-746-2363
  • Director, Neurosurgical Radiosurgery
  • Professor of Clinical Neurological Surgery
  • Robert G. Schwager, MD ’67 Education Scholar, Cornell University
Phone: 212-746-2438
  • Chief of Neurological Surgery, NewYork-Presbyterian Queens
Phone: (718) 670-1837
  • Chief of Neurological Surgery, NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist
  • Alvina and Willis Murphy Associate Professor, Neurological Surgery
  • Director, Brain Metastases Program
  • Co-director, William Rhodes and Louise Tilzer-Rhodes Center for Glioblastoma
Phone: 212-746-1996
  • Vice Chairman, Neurological Surgery
  • Director, Pediatric Neurological Surgery
Phone: 212-746-2363
  • Associate Professor of Clinical Neurological Surgery
Phone: 718-780-5176

Reviewed by: Theodore Schwartz, M.D.
Last reviewed/last updated: September 2020
Illustration by Thom Graves, CMI

Weill Cornell Medicine Brain & Spine Center 525 East 68 Street, Box 99 New York, NY 10065 Phone: 866-426-7787