Pineal-Region Tumors

Tumors in the pineal gland region are rare, constituting less than one percent of all primary brain tumors. Most tumors occur in children, so the incidence in adults is very low. Metastasis is found in about 10 percent to 20 percent of the cases, usually late in the disease.

The location of the pineal gland and other tumors in this region often causes a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in one of the fluid-filled ventricles of the brain. This condition is referred to as hydrocephalus or hydrocephaly (also referred to as “water on the brain”). This can lead to symptoms such as headache, nausea, vomiting and neurological symptoms. 

Tumors that arise from the cells of the pineal gland are characterized based on their potential for rapid growth and metastasis (spread to other regions of the body). 


  • Pineocytomas are slow-growing tumors with a low potential to spread.
  • Pineoblastomas are more aggressive, with a high potential to metastasize, although the spread is usually limited to the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).
  • Tumors containing both cell types also occur.

Diagnosising Pineal-Region Tumors
Diagnostic imaging, such as 
magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), is used in the diagnosis of pineal gland tumors and developing a treatment plan. Analysis of the cerebrospinal fluid may be used to distinguish the particular type of cancer involved, and a biopsy may also be used to determine the tumor type.  

Treatmenting Pineal-Region Tumors
Treatment of the tumor may involve 
surgeryradiationchemotherapy or a combination of any of all of these. Surgery to correct the hydrocephalus is also necessary. Tumors of the pineal gland (pineoblastomas), are very similar to embryonal tumors. Although they are not embryonal tumors, the treatment of pineoblastomas is often similar.

Because adult pineal region tumors are very rare, it is very important for your doctor to have experience in treating this type of cancer. The expertise you need is something you can rely on at Houston Methodist. 
Kenneth R. Peak Brain and Pituitary Tumor Treatment & Research Center 
Houston Methodist Hospital - Texas Medical Center
6445 Main Street, Outpatient Center, Floor 24
Houston, TX 77030 
713.441.8500

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