Symptoms of a Craniopharyngioma

Since a craniopharyngioma grows near the pituitary gland, symptoms are caused by the pressure the growing tumor puts on that glad as well as on nearby structures. The symptoms depend on what structure is being compressed:

  • If the tumor puts pressure on the pituitary gland, it may affect that gland’s ability to produce pituitary hormone. That hormonal deficiency might lead to slowed growth, weight gain, delayed puberty, fatigue, excessive thirst, excessive urination, or other hormonal problems. In adults, symptoms include loss of sex drive or impotence.
  • If the tumor presses against the optic nerve, the symptoms would likely include vision changes. Since children are rarely able to recognize vision problems in themselves, the pressure can cause significant damage before the craniopharyngioma is diagnosed.
  • If the tumor blocks the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, the symptoms would include symptoms of hydrocephalus, including headache, nausea, and, vomiting (especially in the morning), and difficulty with balance.

These symptoms can mean many other things, so an accurate diagnosis is essential. A patient with symptoms of a craniopharyngioma should be referred to a major medical center with specialists who are experienced in pediatric brain tumors (See Doctors Who Treat Craniopharyngioma).

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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
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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
  • Professor of Neurological Surgery, Pediatric Neurosurgery
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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
  • Co-director, Weill Cornell Medicine CSF Leak Program
Phone: (718) 670-1837
  • Chief of Neurological Surgery, NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist
  • 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 2023

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