Disease Control after Radiotherapy for Adult Craniopharyngioma: Clinical Outcomes from a Large Single-Institution Series

J Neurooncol. 2022 May;157(3):425-433. doi: 10.1007/s11060-022-03983-z. Epub 2022 Mar 12.


Purpose: To report disease control and treatment-related side effects among adult patients with craniopharyngioma treated with radiotherapy.

Methods: We performed a single-institution review of adult patients (> 21 years old) with craniopharyngioma treated with radiotherapy either definitively or postoperatively for gross residual disease. We report disease control, survival, and radiotherapy-related side effects.

Results: A total of 49 adult patients with craniopharyngioma were included, 27 of whom were treated at initial presentation and 22 for recurrent disease following initial surgery and observation. Overall, 77% received radiotherapy postoperatively (either after primary surgery or surgery for recurrence). With a median clinical and radiographic follow-up of 4.2 (range, 0.4-21.6) years and 3.0 (range, 0-21.5) years, the 5- and 10-year local control rates were 100 and 94%, respectively. The 5- and 10-year overall survival rates were 80 and 66%, respectively. Eleven percent of patients experienced grade 2 vision deterioration and 18% suffered grade 2 endocrinopathies following radiotherapy.

Conclusions: Radiotherapy provides excellent disease control with acceptable toxicity among adult patients with craniopharyngioma. These data support the use of fractionated radiotherapy in adult patients with recurrent or gross residual disease after surgery. For inoperable patients or those with moderate or high surgical risk to neurologic and/or vascular structures, we advocate for limited surgical resection and postoperative radiotherapy to balance optimal tumor control with tumor- and treatment-related morbidity.

Keywords: Benign tumors; Cancer outcomes; Central nervous system tumors; Radiation therapy; Radiotherapy toxicity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Craniopharyngioma* / radiotherapy
  • Craniopharyngioma* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / radiotherapy
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / surgery
  • Neoplasm, Residual / surgery
  • Pituitary Neoplasms* / radiotherapy
  • Pituitary Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult