Pineal tumors account for 1 percent of brain tumors. The three most common types of pineal tumors are gliomas, germ cell tumors and pineal cell tumors. The cancerous form of a pineal tumor is called a pineoblastoma.
Pineal tumor treatments typically include surgery and radiation, such as Gamma Knife radiosurgery. Gamma Knife treatment can provide excellent pineal tumor control. Chemotherapy may be used in certain cases. For cases of pineoblastoma, radiation may be given to the brain and spine to stop the spread of cancer through the cerebral spinal fluid. Devices called shunts may be needed to relieve fluid on the brain (hydrocephalus).
Pineal tumors form near the pineal gland. This gland regulates melatonin—the hormone responsible for sleep and wake cycles—and lies deep within the brain. Pineal tumors can form in the tissue around the pineal gland or in the cells that make up the pineal gland. They may be either slow growing or more aggressive and likely to spread. Children and young adults are more likely than others to develop pineal tumors.
Pineal tumors can cause:
Imaging, such as computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and biopsy can spot pineal tumors and confirm their type.
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