A pineal tumor is a tumor that originates in the brain near the pineal gland. The pineal gland is involved in sleep-wake cycles as melatonin is secreted here. Tumors in this area may affect melatonin production and therefore alter a patient’s ability to sleep. Symptoms may include headaches, nausea, vomiting, difficulty with eye movements, difficulty with balance, or difficulty walking.
Sometimes a biopsy can be performed to help diagnose and treat the tumor. During a biopsy, the doctor removes a small piece of the tumor and sends it to a pathologist for evaluation. The pathologist is able to help determine the stage and type of tumor present.
Treatment options for a pineal tumor may include chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, or a combination of these. If the tumor can be surgically removed, the surgeon will access the tumor by performing a craniotomy. Once the tumor is visualized, the surgeon will remove as much of the tumor as possible without damaging surrounding healthy tissue. If the tumor is not able to be removed completely, the surgeon will remove as much of it as they can. Radiation may then be used to help treat the remaining tumor.