Diagnosis, treatment, clinical course, and prognosis of childhood-onset craniopharyngioma patients

Hermann L Müller
Minerva Endocrinologica 2017, 42 (4): 356-375
For decades gross-total resection was the preferred treatment option in childhood-onset craniopharyngioma, assuming that radical strategies at the time of initial diagnosis and treatment would result in cure. Recent reports on long-term prognosis, novel treatment approaches, and molecular genetics provide new insights into more risk-adapted treatment strategies in order to prevent sequelae such as hypothalamic syndrome. A search for original articles published between 2000 and 2016 was performed in PubMed, Science Citation Index Expanded, EMBASE and Scopus. The search terms used were "craniopharyngioma", "hypothalamus", "pituitary", "obesity", "irradiation", and "neurosurgery". The clinical, neuroradiological and surgical definition of hypothalamic involvement is a fundamental factor related to postoperative poor outcome, progressive obesity and neuropsychological impairment after surgical removal. There is a need to change the previous "gold-standard" objective of a primary radical tumor removal in all cases by the new paradigm of a limited resection plus focused radiotherapy in patients with hypothalamic lesions. Hypothalamic involvement and treatment-related hypothalamic lesions are associated with the highest risk of postoperative sequelae. Three dimensional intensity modulated proton beam radiotherapy has potential advantage of over photon beam methods to focus and limit the radiation effects to optic and hypothalamic structures. Preclinical, in vivo mouse models of craniopharyngioma have potential advantage to investigate molecular pathways deregulated in the tumor and to test the use of specific drugs. As expertise has been shown to have impact on post-treatment morbidity, medical societies should establish criteria of adequate professional expertise for the treatment of craniopharyngioma.

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