Pituitary Adenomas

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Pituitary Tumors

As the second-largest pituitary tumor program on the West Coast, we deliver expert care for pituitary adenomas and other pituitary tumors. Using a team approach, our pituitary neurosurgeons work side-by-side with expert endocrinologists to deliver personalized care. Most pituitary tumors are adenomas. This type of brain tumor is often noncancerous benign and slow growing.

Many people live with a pituitary adenoma for years before noticing symptoms.

Pituitary adenomas arise from cells in your pituitary gland, which regulate hormones that control complex processes in your body such as growth and fertility. This approach helps you avoid unnecessary procedures while also keeping you safe from complications related to the condition. If your tumor is causing symptoms or changes in hormone balances, then the majority of these tumors can be cured or controlled through a combination of surgery and radiation therapy.

The first line of treatment is surgery, unless the patient has other medical conditions that make surgery unsafe.

What are the symptoms of a pituitary adenoma?

If surgery is not possible, or if the whole tumor cannot be removed, then radiation therapy often radiosurgery is an option as well. Some non-functioning pituitary tumors may be observed without treatment because they are not causing any symptoms or changes in hormone function, and because these tumors typically grow very slowly. This is often the recommended form of treatment for older patients however, there is no specific age limit for pituitary surgery or who have a serious medical illness such as heart disease.

If a decision is made to observe the tumor without treatment, you may need continued hormone testing, and you may need periodic visual testing with an ophthalmologist, all of which will be coordinated by the Multidisciplinary Neuroendocrine clinic. CT or MRI scans are performed three to six months after initial diagnosis and every six to 12 months thereafter until the situation has been clarified.

This period of observation without treatment provides information which helps the doctors decide if it is necessary to use other treatments or to recommend surgery. These tumors are often found while they are still fairly small microadenomas. Symptoms from functional adenomas are described below, based on which hormone they make.

Pituitary Adenoma - EyeWiki

These tumors don't cause symptoms until they press on nearby nerves, parts of the brain, or other parts of the pituitary. Non-functional adenomas that cause no symptoms are sometimes found because of an MRI or CT scan done for other reasons.

Pituitary Tumors

These might be the most common pituitary tumors. Pituitary macroadenomas benign tumors larger than 1 cm and carcinomas cancers , whether functional or not, can be large enough to press on nearby nerves or parts of the brain.

This can lead to symptoms such as:. Sudden loss of vision, loss of consciousness, and even death can result from sudden bleeding into the tumor. Macroadenomas and pituitary carcinomas can also press on and destroy the normal parts of the pituitary gland. This causes a shortage of one or more pituitary hormones.

Large tumors (macroadenomas) and pituitary carcinomas

Low levels of some body hormones such as cortisol, thyroid hormone, and sex hormones cause symptoms. Depending on which hormones are affected, symptoms might include:. This can lead to diabetes insipidus. In this condition, too much water is lost in the urine , so the person urinates often and becomes very thirsty as the body tries to keep up with the loss of water.


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If left untreated, this can cause dehydration and altered blood mineral levels, which can lead to coma and even death.