Definition: An epidermoid tumor is a benign, slow-growing tumor that arises from skin cells that get trapped in the brain and spinal cord during development. This type of tumor is often referred to as a “cyst” because it has a thin wall that secretes a soft material into the center. This type of tumor most often occurs near the brainstem, cerebellum, or pituitary gland.
Symptoms: Common symptoms of an epidermoid tumor are headache, imbalance, or visual changes depending on the location of the tumor. Rarely, an epidermoid cyst will rupture causing meningitis, an inflammation of the lining of the brain. Symptoms of meningitis are fever, chills, severe headache, and neck stiffness.
Evaluation: Epidermoid tumors are evaluated with an MRI or CT scan.
Maximal surgical removal is the treatment of choice for epidermoid tumors. Radiation and chemotherapy are not usually treatment options for this type of tumor.
Follow-up: Long-term follow-up with regular brain scans is recommended to watch for tumor recurrence.