Craniopharyngioma - Childhood: Symptoms and Signs

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 11/2021

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. Use the menu to see other pages.

Children with craniopharyngioma may experience any of the symptoms or signs described below. Symptoms are changes that you can feel in your body. Signs are changes in something measured, like by taking your blood pressure or doing a lab test. Together, symptoms and signs can help describe a medical problem. Sometimes, children with craniopharyngioma do not have any of the symptoms and signs described below. Or, the cause of a symptom or sign may be a medical condition that is not craniopharyngioma.

Symptoms of craniopharyngioma can be caused by hormonal changes, pressure building up in the brain, or by the tumor pressing on nerves or blood vessels, which can cause the brain to not function properly in those areas. Generally, craniopharyngioma is not diagnosed until a child has symptoms.

General symptoms include:

  • Headaches, which may be severe and worse in the early morning

  • Nausea and/or vomiting

  • Difficulty with balance

  • Increased sleepiness or fatigue

  • Mood or behavior changes

Location-specific symptoms of craniopharyngioma include:

  • Obesity or excessive weight gain

  • Excessive thirst and increased urination

  • Vision changes, blurriness, or loss of peripheral vision

  • Slow or halted body growth

  • Early or delayed puberty

If you are concerned about any changes your child experiences, please talk with your child’s doctor. Your child's doctor will ask how long and how often your child has been experiencing the symptom(s), in addition to other questions. This is to help figure out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis.

If a central nervous system (CNS) tumor is diagnosed, relieving symptoms remains an important part of your child’s care and treatment. Managing symptoms may also be called "palliative care" or "supportive care." It is often started soon after diagnosis and continued throughout treatment. Be sure to talk with the health care team about the symptoms your child experiences, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

The next section in this guide is Diagnosis. It explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.