Craniopharyngioma causes symptoms in the following ways:
- Increasing the pressure on the brain (intracranial pressure)
- Disrupting the function of the pituitary gland
- Damaging the optic nerve
Increased pressure on the brain causes headache, nausea, vomiting (especially in the morning), and difficulty with balance.
Damage to the pituitary gland causes hormone imbalances that can lead to excessive thirst, excessive urination, and stunted growth.
When the optic nerve is damaged by the tumor, vision problems develop. These defects are often permanent, and may get worse after surgery to remove the tumor.
Behavioral and learning problems may be present.
Most patients have at least some vision problems and evidence of decreased hormone production at the time of diagnosis.