Why choose Mayo Clinic

By Mayo Clinic Staff


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  • Teamwork. At Mayo Clinic, neurologists and ear, nose and throat (otorhinolaryngology) experts form a team with neurosurgeons, radiologists and radiation oncologists to care for people with craniopharyngioma. Other professionals are included as needed.
  • Experience. Craniopharyngioma is a rare type of brain tumor. Mayo Clinic doctors have experience diagnosing and treating craniopharyngioma. Each year, they treat about 200 people with craniopharyngioma.
  • A full range of treatment options to consider. Mayo Clinic doctors will work with you to review all of your treatment options and choose the treatment that best suits your needs and goals. The range of treatments offered to people with craniopharyngioma includes several types of surgery and radiation therapy.
  • Newest technology. Mayo Clinic offers advanced technology for treating craniopharyngiomas, including minimally invasive surgery, image-guided surgery and stereotactic radiosurgery.
  • Research. Mayo Clinic doctors and scientists are active in brain tumor research. You have access to the latest diagnosis and treatment advances that result from this research.


Tests and procedures used to diagnose craniopharyngioma include:

  • Physical exam. Diagnosing a craniopharyngioma usually starts with a medical history review and a neurologic exam by your doctor. During this procedure, your vision, hearing, balance, coordination and reflexes are tested.
  • Blood tests. Blood tests may reveal changes in hormone levels that indicate a tumor is affecting your pituitary gland.
  • Imaging tests. Tests to create images of your brain may include X-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a computerized tomography (CT) scan or a positron emission tomography (PET) scan.


At Mayo Clinic, a team of experts works with you to determine which craniopharyngioma treatment is best for you. Treatment for craniopharyngioma usually involves surgery.


Surgery to remove all or most of the tumor is most often recommended for people with craniopharyngioma. What type of operation is performed will depend on the location and size of your tumor.

To access the tumor, the surgeon may use:

  • Open surgery. During a craniotomy procedure, doctors open the skull to gain access to the tumor.
  • Minimally invasive surgery. During a transsphenoidal procedure, special surgical tools are inserted through your nose or through a small incision above your upper lip. The tools pass through a bone (sphenoid bone) and into your brain.

When possible, surgeons remove the entire tumor. But because there are often many delicate and important structures nearby, doctors sometimes can't remove the entire tumor. In those situations, other treatments may be used after surgery.


When a tumor can't be removed completely with surgery, your doctor may recommend stereotactic radiosurgery. Technically a type of radiation and not an operation, stereotactic radiosurgery focuses multiple beams of radiation on precise points to kill the tumor cells.

Radiation therapy

Other forms of radiation therapy may be used to treat craniopharyngioma, depending on the situation. Radiation uses powerful energy beams, such as X-rays, to kill tumor cells.

Mayo Clinic radiation oncologists use the latest radiation technology, including intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT). These advanced procedures help treat the cancer effectively while limiting radiation to normal tissues, such as the eyes, optic nerves, brain, brainstem and spinal cord.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., are ranked among the Best Hospitals for ear, nose and throat by U.S. News & World Report. Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., is ranked high performing for ear, nose and throat by U.S. News & World Report.

July 21, 2015