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Craniopharyngioma is a cancer which arises in the pituitary gland, in tissue originally found in the embryo. One of the most common childhood brain cancers, it is also sometimes called a Rathke's pouch tumor or a suprasellar cyst.

Causes and Symptoms

The cause of craniopharyngioma is not really understood, although it is believed to be primarily a congenital illness. Nests of embryonic cells exist in a part of the pituitary gland known as Rathke's pouch. In craniopharyngioma, these nests appear to contain cancerous cells which, over time, multiply and become a tumor.

General symptoms include : -
  • Headaches, which may be severe and may be worse in the early morning
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Difficulty with balance
  • Increased sleepiness or fatigue
  • Mood or behavior changes

Specific symptoms include: -
  • Vision changes, blurriness, or loss of peripheral vision
  • Excessive thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Slow or halted growth
  • Excessive weight gain
  • Early or delayed puberty

Risk Factors

A risk factor is anything that increases a person’s chance of developing a tumor. Some risk factors can be controlled, such as smoking, and some cannot be controlled, such as age and family history. Although risk factors can influence the development of a tumor, most do not directly cause a tumor. Some people with several risk factors never develop a tumor, while others with no known risk factors do.

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