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  1. Crom, Deborah B.
  2. Smith, Daniel
  3. Xiong, Zang
  4. Onar, Arzu
  5. Hudson, Melissa M.
  6. Merchant, Thomas E.
  7. Morris, E. Brannon


Craniopharyngiomas are the third most common pediatric brain tumor and most common pediatric suprasellar tumor. Contemporary treatment of craniopharyngiomas uses limited surgery and radiation in an effort to minimize morbidity, but the long-term health status of patients treated in this fashion has not been well described. The purpose of this study was to analyze the health status of long-term survivors of pediatric craniopharyngioma treated primarily with radiation and conservative surgical resection. Medical records of all long-term survivors of craniopharyngioma treated at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and then transferred to the long-term follow-up clinic were reviewed. The initial cohort comprised 55 patients. Of these, 51 (93%) were alive at the time of this analysis. The median age at diagnosis was 7.1 years (range, 1.2-17.6 years), and 29 (57%) were male. At the time of analysis, the median survival was 7.6 years (range, 5.0-21.3 years). Diagnosis and treatment included surgical biopsy, resection (n = 50), and radiation therapy (n = 48). Only 1 patient received chemotherapy. Polyendocrinopathy was the most common morbidity, with hypothyroidism (96%), adrenocorticotropic hormone deficiency (84%), and diabetes insipidus (53%) occurring most frequently. Half of the patients were hypogonadal, and 33 (65%) were overweight or obese. The most common neurologic problems included shunt dependence (37%), seizures (28%), and headaches (39%). Psychological and educational deficits were also identified in a significant number of these individuals. Despite efforts to reduce morbidity in these patients, many survivors remain burdened with significant medical complications. In a small percentage of patients, complications may result in death even during extended remission of craniopharyngioma. Because of the broad spectrum or morbidities experienced, survivors of craniopharyngioma continue to benefit from multidisciplinary care.