Craniopharyngioma is a type of brain tumor that develops from leftover cells in early fetal development. This type of tumor often grows near the brain's pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain and may also affect the optic nerve and surrounding tissue.

Craniopharyngiomas are relatively benign tumors that originate from the pituitary gland embryonic tissue. Craniopharyngiomas account for 1 to 5 percent of all primary brain tumors and can occur anywhere along the infundibulum (the hollow stalk that connects the hypothalamus and the posterior pituitary gland).

The three types of craniopharyngiomas are:

  • Adamantinomatous (pediatric)
  • Papillary (adult)
  • Mixed (adult and pediatric)

Although craniopharyngiomas are found in patients of all ages, they most happen between the ages of 10 and14 years or in adults over 50 years old. There appears to be a similar incidence in both males and females.


Craniopharyngioma symptoms vary depending on the location and size of the tumor. They include:

  • Decreased vision due to pressure or damage to the optic nerve
  • Disrupted hormone production by the pituitary gland
  • Increased pressure on the brain, usually from hydrocephalus


Our team of specialists at the Brain Tumor Center provides the most up-to-date evaluation for craniopharyngioma, using the latest diagnostic and imaging technology.


Surgery is the primary treatment for craniopharyngioma. In tumors that can’t be removed by surgery alone, radiation therapy may also be necessary.

For 80 to 90 percent of patients with craniopharyngioma, the tumor can be completely removed with surgery or treated with radiation. A patient’s long-term craniopharyngioma prognosis depends on whether the tumor can be completely removed or if treatment causes nervous system problems or hormonal imbalances. 


Make an appointment

Call now to find a Northwell Health Neuroscience Institute physician.

The Neuroscience Institute

We are dedicated to the world-class diagnosis and treatment of neurological diseases and disorders.