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Epidemiology of craniopharyngiomas: a population-based study in Malta

Sarah Craus and Mark Gruppetta


Despite being benign tumours, craniopharyngiomas are challenging to manage and can cause significant morbidity and mortality in both the paediatric and adult population. The aim of the study was to analyse the epidemiology of craniopharyngiomas, patient and tumour characteristics through a population-based study in Malta, enabling a better quantification of the disease burden.


Thorough research was carried out to identify the number of patients who were diagnosed with craniopharyngiomas. Epidemiological data, including both standardised incidence rates (SIR) and prevalence rates, were established in a well-defined population. For incidence estimates, patients who were diagnosed between 2008 and 2019 were included. The background population formed 4.8 million patient-years at risk.


Twenty-nine subjects were identified and included in our study. The overall SIR was 0.3/100,000/year, with a higher SIR for males compared to females (0.4/100,000/year and 0.2/100,000/year, respectively). The highest SIR was recorded in the 10–19 year age group. The estimated prevalence rate amounted to 5.27/100,000 people, with a lower prevalence rate for childhood-onset when compared to the adult-onset category (2.03/100,000 vs 3.24/100,000 people). The median longest tumour diameter was 31.0 mm (IQR 21–41), with a statistically significant difference between childhood- and adult-onset disease; 43.0 mm (IQR 42.5–47.25) vs 27.0 mm (IQR 20.55–31.55) (P = 0.011).


Through this population-based study, accurate and up-to-date prevalence and incidence rates for craniopharyngiomas are reported. These provide a clearer reflection of the true health burden of the disease.