Craniopharyngioma - Childhood: Latest Research

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 05/2016

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done now to learn more about craniopharyngioma and how to treat it. To see other pages, use the menu.

For craniopharyngioma, due to the general success of surgery and radiation therapy, research focuses on treatments for recurrent tumors or tumors that are unable to be completely removed with surgery. There is also ongoing research to understand what allows craniopharyngioma to grow. Always talk with your child’s doctor about the diagnostic and treatment options best for your child.

  • Different methods of giving drugs.  Interferon given by weekly injection under the skin, called pegylated interferon, and chemotherapy or interferon (Roferon-A, Intron A, Alferon) injected directly into the tumor cyst if it is large, are being looked at to treat some patients with craniopharyngioma. Interferon is a type of biologic therapy, also called immunotherapy. Biologic therapy is designed to target areas on the tumor cells or the tumor blood vessels to try to stop the tumor from growing. Interferon is also part of the body’s natural immune system.

  • Improved methods of giving radiation therapy. For patients with a tumor that cannot be completely removed during surgery, doctors are studying new techniques for giving radiation therapy. The use of 3-dimensional radiation techniques allows high doses of radiation therapy to be delivered to the tumor with lower doses to healthy brain tissue nearby. These methods may help reduce damage to healthy tissues.

  • Proton therapy. Proton therapy is a type of external-beam radiation therapy that uses protons rather than x-rays. At high energy, protons can destroy tumor cells. Doctors are studying proton therapy for patients with tumors that cannot be completely removed during surgery. Proton therapy allows for high doses of radiation to be delivered to the tumor while reducing radiation doses to the healthy brain tissue. Proton radiation is believed to be equally effective as existing radiation therapy methods but may have fewer side effects.

  • Palliative care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current craniopharyngioma treatments to improve patients’ comfort and quality of life

Looking for More About the Latest Research?

If you would like additional information about the latest areas of research regarding craniopharyngioma, explore these related items that take you outside of this guide:

The next section in this guide is Coping with Treatment. It offers some guidance in how to cope with the physical, emotional, and social changes that a CNS tumor and its treatment can bring. Or, use the menu to choose another section to continue reading this guide.