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What are Pineal Parenchymal Tumors (pine-knee-al pear-ren-key-mal)?

A pineal parenchymal tumor is similar to a pineal astrocytic tumor, but slightly different. In contrast to pineal astrocytic tumors that form in the tissue surrounding the gland, pineal parenchymal tumors form in the cells of the gland itself. It is the most common tumor in the pineal gland. To learn more about a pineal parenchymal tumor, or to schedule an appointment, please call (407) 303-1700 or click here to fill out an online assistance form.

There are two basic forms of pineal parenchymal tumors:

  • Pineocytomas (pine-knee-oh-sy-toe-mahs): This is a slow growing tumor that is most often found in adults between the ages of 25 and 35.
  • Pineoblastomas (pine-knee-oh-blast-toe-mahs): This is a rare tumor in adults that can spread very quickly. Though rare, it is almost always malignant.

The specialists at the Florida Hospital Brain and Spinal Cancer Program are engaged in studying new methods for treating pineal parenchymal tumors, including finding new treatments and procedures through clinical trials. The actual course of treatment for your particular type of pineal parenchymal tumor will depend on its size and location as well as individual health factors.

Causes of Pineal Parenchymal Tumors

Currently, the cause of pineal parenchymal tumors is unknown, but scientists are working to find more evidence as to why these tumors are created. However, they do know that pineocytomas, a slow-growing vareity of pineal parechymal tumor, typically develop in adults ages 25-35. A more rare but highly malignant type of pineoblastomas may occur in children. 

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Symptoms of Pineal Parenchymal Tumors

Signs and symptoms of pineal parenchymal tumors may develop slowly or quickly depending on the location of the tumor in the brain and the speed of its growth. Often, the initial symptoms are caused by increased pressure in the brain (referred to as raised intracranial pressure). This pressure can be caused by blocked ventricles (fluid-filled areas in the brain), leading to a build-up of cerebrospinal fluid. This fluid surrounds and protects both the brain and spinal cord from minor injury. The pressure may also result from swelling around the tumor itself, causing headaches, sickness and vomiting, and problems with vision. To learn more about pineal parenchymal tumors, or to schedule an appointment, please call (407) 303-1700 or click here to fill out an online assistance form.

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Tests to Diagnose Pineal Parenchymal Tumors

Our physicians at Florida Hospital Cancer Institute will need to find out as much as they can about the tumor in order to offer a correct diagnosis and treatment plan. This includes knowing the type, position and size. A variety of tests may be recommended, starting with your reflexes and the power and feeling in your arms and legs. Your physician may also check to see if your optic nerve is swollen, which can indicate a rise in pressure in the brain. Blood tests may also be taken in order to assess your general health and to see how well your kidneys are functioning.

The following tests may be ordered to diagnose pineal parenchymal tumors:

CT (computerized tomography) scan
A CT scan takes a series of x-rays that allows the physician to see a three-dimensional picture of the inside of your body. The CT scan is painless and lasts for only a few minutes. Using a small amount of radiation, the scan will be harmless to you and to those around you. An injection of dye is given in order to let the physician see certain areas more clearly. The injection may make you feel warm or hot all over for a few seconds. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have an allergy to iodine or if you have asthma, as this could lead to a more serious reaction.

MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) scan
An MRI is similar to a CT scan but uses magnetism instead of x-rays to build up a detailed picture of the areas in your body. Before the scan you may be asked to remove any metal belongings, as well as jewelry. An injection of dye may be given into a vein in your arm, helping the images to show up more clearly. During the scan you will lie on a table inside a long cylinder for approximately 30 minutes. The scan is painless but may be slightly uncomfortable. The MRI technician will help make you as comfortable as possible and will give you earplugs or headphones to reduce the noise from the machine.

Biopsy
Your physician will remove a small amount of tissue from the tumor in order to give a correct diagnosis. In most cases this involves an operation. One of our skilled neurosurgeons will make a very small hole in the skull and pass a fine needle into the tumor in order to remove a small sample. A CT scan will be performed at the same time in order to help guide the surgeon. Your physician will tell you whether or not a biopsy is necessary in your case and what the operation will involve. 

To learn more about pineal parenchymal tumors, or to schedule an appointment, please call (407) 303-1700 or click here to fill out an online assistance form.

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Treatments for Pineal Parenchymal Tumors

The standard treatment for pineal parenchymal tumors will typically involve surgery. Radiation therapy may also be the primary treatment for adults and children over the ages of three. For young children who cannot undergo radiation therapy, chemotherapy may be used. As always, if you need more time to consider your options, you can always take more time. All patients are free to choose not to have treatment and our staff will explain what may happen if you decide to not have it. The following treatment options may be recommended for pineal parenchymal tumorsr.

Surgery
Radiotherapy
Chemotherapy

To learn more about pineal parenchymal tumors, or to schedule an appointment, please call (407) 303-1700 or click here to fill out an online assistance form.

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