A Part of the University of Maryland Medical Center

Connect with UMGCC
Facebook Twitter YouTube Blog iPhone
Email PageEmail page Print PagePrint page

Pituitary Tumors Treatment

General Information About Pituitary Tumors

A pituitary tumor is a growth of abnormal cells in the tissues of the pituitary gland.

Pituitary tumors form in the pituitary gland, a pea-sized organ in the center of the brain, just above the back of the nose. The pituitary gland is sometimes called the "master endocrine gland" because it makes hormones that affect the way many parts of the body work. It also controls hormones made by many other glands in the body. Anatomy of the inside of the brain, showing the pineal and pituitary glands, optic nerve, ventricles (with cerebrospinal fluid shown in blue), and other parts of the brain.
Anatomy of the inside of the brain, showing the pineal and pituitary glands, optic nerve, ventricles (with cerebrospinal fluid shown in blue), and other parts of the brain.

Anatomy of the inside of the brain, showing the pineal and pituitary glands, optic nerve, ventricles (with cerebrospinal fluid shown in blue), and other parts of the brain.

Pituitary tumors are divided into three groups:

Pituitary tumors may be either non-functioning or functioning.

The pituitary gland hormones control many other glands in the body.

Hormones made by the pituitary gland include:

Having certain genetic conditions increases the risk of developing a pituitary tumor.

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. People who think they may be at risk should discuss this with their doctor. Risk factors for pituitary tumors include having the following hereditary diseases:

Possible signs of a pituitary tumor include problems with vision and certain physical changes.

Symptoms can be caused by the growth of the tumor and/or by hormones the tumor makes. Some tumors may not cause symptoms. Conditions other than pituitary tumors can cause the symptoms listed below. A doctor should be consulted if any of these problems occur.

Signs and symptoms of a non-functioning pituitary tumor

Sometimes, a pituitary tumor may press on or damage parts of the pituitary gland, causing it to stop making one or more hormones. Too little of a certain hormone will affect the work of the gland or organ that the hormone controls. The following symptoms may occur:

Most of the tumors that make LH and FSH do not make enough extra hormone to cause symptoms. These tumors are considered to be non-functioning tumors.

Signs and symptoms of a functioning pituitary tumor

When a functioning pituitary tumor makes extra hormones, the symptoms will depend on the type of hormone being made.

Too much prolactin may cause:

Too much ACTH may cause:

Too much growth hormone may cause:

Too much thyroid-stimulating hormone may cause:

Other general signs and symptoms of pituitary tumors:

Imaging studies and tests that examine the blood and urine are used to detect (find) and diagnose a pituitary tumor.

The following tests and procedures may be used:

Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.

The prognosis (chance of recovery) depends on the type of tumor and whether the tumor has spread into other areas of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) or outside of the central nervous system to other parts of the body.

Treatment options depend on the following: