Several research studies have been conducted to seek more information on childhood craniopharyngiomas, their related prevention methods, their diagnostic process at the initial phase, and the best treatments strategies. Interferon, a type of immunotherapy, effectively regulates and stimulates the body’s natural immunity. Interferons are found efficient in treating some cases of childhood craniopharyngioma. Treatments for cysts include using interferon (Roferon-A, Infergen, Intron A, Alferon), radioactive phosphorous P-32, and bleomycin (available as a generic drug). A recent three-dimensional radiation technique allows high doses of radiation therapy to be administered to the tumor, with only a low dose reaching the nearby healthy brain tissues. Researches show that both radiation therapy and proton therapy are equally efficient in dealing with craniopharyngioma tumors, but some side effects are expected. Many clinical trials are devising and evaluating better ways and strategies to improve care for craniopharyngioma patients. Several ongoing studies are developing ways to effectively treat and manage obesity, a common long-term side effect of childhood craniopharyngioma.
Advancement in Childhood Craniopharyngiomas Research
Based on the latest research on craniopharyngioma, childhood craniopharyngiomas are benign tumors usually found near the pituitary gland or hypothalamus. Due to their location, these tumors are considered complex intracranial tumors. These tumors grow at a languid pace. There is no clear-cut plan or fixed strategy to treat craniopharyngioma. Hence the treatment strategy is tailored as per every patient’s disease condition, and it focuses on improving their life’s comfort and quality.
Even though the tumor’s location is challenging, it is more or less consistent in the case of most patients. The tumors mostly form behind the eyes and grow upwards, affecting the pituitary gland, hypothalamus and optic nerve. As a result, the patients experience memory problems, morbid obesity, blindness, endocrine imbalances, potential brain artery damages and hydrocephalus.
A lot of research are happening to learn more and understand in deep about craniopharyngioma tumors and ways to approach the disease and treat them without compromising the care and comfort given to the patients 1. Today, many studies focus on collecting and analyzing legit data regarding craniopharyngioma, thereby guiding public information and awareness. The focus is on recurring craniopharyngioma tumors in the research and studies on tumor treatment. In most cases, the initial tumor growth is successfully destroyed via surgery and radiation, and the problem happens when the tumor grows again in the body. Hence researchers are trying to develop strategies and treatment plans to prevent the recurrence of craniopharyngioma tumors in survivors.
The following are some of the latest studies happening with respect to craniopharyngioma tumours.
- Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy, also called biologic therapy, is a treatment procedure used in treating many types of cancerous growths and tumors. The therapy focuses on boosting the body’s immune system and natural defenses to fight the disease. The treatment uses materials made either naturally by the body or in a lab to target, boost and restore the immune system functions. Interferon, a type of immunotherapy, is effective in regulating and stimulating the body’s natural immunity. Interferons are found efficient in treating some cases of childhood craniopharyngioma. It is either given as a direct injection into the cyst or injected underneath the skin every week.
- Treating Cysts: in some cases, the tumor may be inactive and progressing at a languid pace, and the symptoms and discomfort experienced by the patient may be due to cystic growth. Such cysts could generally be treated with surgical procedures or other therapies or treatments. Some treatments include using interferon (Roferon-A, Infergen, Intron A, Alferon), radioactive phosphorous P-32, and bleomycin (available as a generic drug) 2.
- Improvements in Radiation Therapy: A surgical procedure fails to remove the Craniopharyngioma tumor entirely in some patients’ cases. Healthcare professionals are trying to bring improvisations in radiation therapy procedures to help eliminate the tumor. A recent three-dimensional radiation technique allows high doses of radiation therapy to be administered to the tumor, with only a low dose reaching the nearby healthy brain tissues 3. The method focuses on minimizing the damage caused to the healthy tissues.
- Proton Therapy: Proton therapy is a form of external-beam radiation therapy that uses protons instead of x-rays. Protons, at high energy, are capable of destroying tumor growths. Studies are analyzing the efficiency of proton therapy in treating tumors that cannot be eliminated via surgery. The therapy allows high doses of radiation therapy to be administered to the tumor, reducing the dose impact on the healthy brain tissues. Researches show that both radiation therapy and proton therapy are equally efficient in dealing with craniopharyngioma tumors, but some side effects are expected 4.
- Supportive or palliative care is equally essential as an active treatment for any disease condition. Many clinical trials are devising and evaluating better ways and strategies to improve care for craniopharyngioma patients. Many trials focus on finding ways to reduce the symptoms and side effects of craniopharyngioma treatments and manage them better, thereby improving the quality and comfort of patients’ lives.
- Managing side-effects: many studies focus on finding ways to treat and relieve long-term side effects of craniopharyngioma treatments. Several ongoing studies are devising ways to effectively treat and manage obesity, a common long-term side effect of childhood craniopharyngioma.
Parents or caretakers are encouraged to talk with your child’s healthcare team or doctor about the latest and best diagnostic methods and treatment strategies to treat your child’s disease condition.
- 1.Bogusz A, Müller HL. Childhood-onset craniopharyngioma: latest insights into pathology, diagnostics, treatment, and follow-up. Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics. Published online October 3, 2018:793-806. doi:10.1080/14737175.2018.1528874
- 2.Kilday JP, Caldarelli M, Massimi L, et al. Intracystic interferon-alpha in pediatric craniopharyngioma patients: an international multicenter assessment on behalf of SIOPE and ISPN. Neuro-Oncology. Published online May 11, 2017:1398-1407. doi:10.1093/neuonc/nox056
- 3.O’steen L, Indelicato DJ. Advances in the management of craniopharyngioma. F1000Res. Published online October 11, 2018:1632. doi:10.12688/f1000research.15834.1
- 4.Jimenez RB, Ahmed S, Johnson A, et al. Proton Radiation Therapy for Pediatric Craniopharyngioma. International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics. Published online August 2021:1480-1487. doi:10.1016/j.ijrobp.2021.02.045