- Mar 30, 2007
A pituitary tumor is an abnormal growth in the pituitary gland, the part of the brain that regulates the body's balance of hormones.
Causes: The pituitary gland is a pea-sized gland located at the base of the brain. The pituitary regulates and controls the release of hormones from other endocrine glands, which in turn regulate many body processes. These hormones include:
- Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)
- Growth hormone (GH)
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
- Central hypothyroidism (excess T.S.H.)
- Cushing syndrom (excessA.C.H.)
- Gigantism (excessG.H.)
- Prolactinoma(excess Prolactin)
There are other types of tumors that can be found in the same area of the head as a pituitary tumor:
Symptoms : Symptoms associated with pituitary tumors include:
- Changes in weight
- Enlarged hands, feet
- Facial changes
- Hair changes
- Low blood pressure
- Nasal drainage
- Nausea and vomiting
- Personality changes
- Problems with the sense of smell
- Skin changes
- Temperature sensitivity
- Visual changes
Endocrine function tests include:
- Cortisol levels
- Follicle-stimulating hormone levels
- Insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1) levels
- Luteinizing hormone levels
- Serum prolactin level
- Testosterone/estradiol levels
- Thyroid hormone levels
- Tests that help confirm the diagnosis include the following
Treatment: Pituitary tumors are usually not cancerous and therefore won't spread to other areas of the body. However, they can cause serious problems by putting pressure on important nerves and blood vessels.
Surgery to remove the tumor is often necessary, especially if the tumor is pressing on the optic nerves, which could cause blindness.
Most of the time, pituitary tumors can be removed through the nose and sinuses. However, some tumors cannot be removed this way and will require removal through the skull (transcranial).
Radiation therapy may be used to shrink the tumor, either in combination with surgery or for people who cannot undergo surgery.
The following medications may shrink certain types of tumors:
[FONT="]Bromocriptine[/FONT] (parlodel)[FONT="] or cabergoline (dostinex) are the first-line therapy for tumors that release prolactin. These drugs decrease prolactin levels and shrink the tumor. Ocreotide or pegvisomant is sometimes used for tumors that release growth hormone, especially when surgery is unlikely to result in a cure. [/FONT]
[FONT="]Possible Complications: [/FONT][FONT="]The most serious complication is blindness, which can occur if the optic nerve is seriously damaged.[/FONT]
Permanent hormonal imbalances may be caused by the tumor or its removal. This may require replacement of the affected hormones