How We Can Help You
Craniopharyngiomas are one of the most challenging brain tumors. Given their rarity and complexity, they should be treated only by experienced surgeons at comprehensive skull base centers. These tumors, which can affect children and adults, develop near the pituitary gland and critical structures such as the brain’s hypothalamus, visual pathways, and deep brain vessels.
Stanford has identified key surgical anatomy and developed new surgical techniques that are critical to fully remove the tumors and reduce risks. Many of our patients had prior failed treatment at other academic medical centers or were told their tumors were inoperable.
If you or your loved one have been diagnosed with a craniopharyngioma, we will be privileged to evaluate your case and offer our recommendations for treatment.
WHAT WE OFFER YOU FOR CRANIOPHARYNGIOMAS
- Globally-recognized expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of craniopharyngiomas.
- Team-based treatment planning that brings together specialists from neurosurgery, rhinology, neuroradiology, radiation oncology, ophthalmology, neuropathology, neuroendocrinology, and more.
- Advanced treatment options in endoscopic endonasal surgery and hormone therapies.
- Comprehensive support services like occupational or physical rehabilitation, nutritional and emotional support to help you with your specific symptoms and the challenges of this experience.
- An active clinical research program dedicated to broadening options for the diagnosis and treatment of craniopharyngiomas.
- Assistance from our International Medical Services team to plan your travel and accommodations.
Treatment Options for Craniopharyngioma
The primary treatment for craniopharyngioma is surgery. The Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA) has emerged over the last decade as the ideal surgical route for most craniopharyngiomas. The goal is to remove the tumor completely to maximize chances for surgical cure.
In these situations, the expertise of the surgeon is critical, because the goal is to preserve function while removing as much of the tumor as possible. In some patients, the surgeon may recommend leaving a small portion of tumor to avoid injury to the pituiatry stalk and hypothalamus.
The main risk of surgery is loss of pituitary hormonal production. The risk varies according to the size and location of the tumor. Fortunately, current hormone replacement therapies, under the supervision of expert pituitary neuro-endocrinologists such as ours at Stanford, are highly effective and allow patients to have a healthy life.
The second most common risk of surgery is leak of cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF) leak. In our experience, fewer than 5% of patients require a follow-up operation to repair the leak. Advanced techniques done in conjunction with our ENT-Rhinology team are highly effective to prevent or treat CSF leaks and to minimize injury to the structures near the sinuses.
At Stanford, our current complete tumor resection rates are above 90% with less than 5% risk of complications with vision, less than 1% risk of stroke, and no incidence of hypothalamic injury. We have successfully removed craniopharyngiomas using the endoscopic endonasal surgery in patients as young as 2-year old.
Even with the best possible surgical treatment, some tumors cannot be completely removed or regrow years later. There may be a need for another operation. Subsequent radiation treatment is recommended in some cases of craniopharyngiomas that are incompletely removed or recur. New radiation techniques such as CyberKnife stereotactic radiosurgery use a computer-guided system to deliver highly focused beams of x-ray radiation to the tumor, while minimizing effects to the surrounding tissue.
Clinical Trials for Craniopharyngiomas
Clinical trials evaluate new approaches, devices, or medications in the treatment of craniopharyngiomas. Ask your doctor or clinical trials coordinator about available trials that may be additional options for your care.
To learn more about the clinical trials we offer, contact Maria Coburn at 650-736-9551.