HomeHealth A-ZPituitary Tumors - Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Pituitary Tumors – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

When an abnormal growth of cells occurs in the body, it is called a tumor. Tumors in the pituitary gland are referred to as pituitary tumors.

About Pituitary Tumors

Pituitary tumors are tumors that form in the pituitary gland of the body. The pituitary is a small gland located below the brain. The nasal passages are just below it. 

The main function of the pituitary gland is to make hormones that influence various body functions. Hence, a pituitary tumor can affect the amount of hormones that the pituitary gland produces. This can cause various imbalances and problems in the body. Another serious complication is that pituitary tumors can cause visual problems as they may press against the optic nerves located nearby.

Most pituitary tumors are not cancerous in nature. This means that they do not spread to other body parts and remain restricted to the pituitary gland and nearby tissues. Such tumors can be treated as various treatment options are available. 

What are the Symptoms of Pituitary Tumors?

Not all pituitary tumors produce symptoms in the body; only some do. However, the range of these symptoms is quite extensive. These symptoms are caused due to excessive or deficient production of the various pituitary hormones. Below are the various symptoms of pituitary tumors : 

Symptoms of pressure from a pituitary tumor include:

  • Vision loss, especially loss of peripheral vision 
  • Headache

Symptoms linked to hormone level changes

Overfunctioning

Functioning pituitary tumors leads to overproduction of hormones. Different types of functioning tumors in the pituitary gland cause specific symptoms and sometimes a combination of them.

Deficiency

Big tumors can cause hormonal deficiencies. Symptoms include:

  • Weakness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling cold
  • Increased amount of urine
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Less frequent or no menstrual periods
  • Unintended weight gain or loss 

Adrenocorticotropic Hormone-secreting (ACTH) tumors

ACTH tumors produce the hormone adrenocorticotropin that stimulates the adrenal glands to make the cortisol hormone. Cushing syndrome results from the adrenal glands producing too much of cortisol. Possible symptoms of Cushing syndrome include:

Growth hormone-secreting tumors

These tumors produce excess growth hormone (acromegaly) that can cause:

  • Excess sweating
  • Coarsened facial features
  • Enlarged hands and feet
  • Heart problems
  • High blood sugar
  • Misaligned teeth
  • Joint pain
  • Increased body hair
  • Children and adolescents may grow too tall too fast

Prolactin-secreting tumors

Overproduction of prolactin from prolactinoma, a pituitary tumor can cause a decrease in normal levels of sex hormones — testosterone in men and estrogen in women. Excessive prolactin in the blood affects women and men differently.

In men, a prolactin-producing tumor may lead to male hypogonadism. Symptoms can include:

In women, prolactinoma may cause:

Thyroid-stimulating hormone-secreting tumors

When a pituitary tumor over-produces thyroid-stimulating hormone the thyroid gland makes too much of hormone thyroxine overactive thyroid disease, a rare cause of hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism can accelerate the body’s metabolism, causing:

  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat 
  • Weight loss
  • Frequent bowel movements
  • Nervousness or irritability
  • Excessive sweating

What are the Causes of Pituitary Tumors?

Unfortunately, the main cause of pituitary tumors remains unknown even to this day and age. However, experts believe a condition called multiple endocrine neoplasia type I (MEN 1) can increase the likelihood of developing pituitary tumors. This condition can pass from one generation to another in a family.

When to See a Doctor?

The symptoms of pituitary tumors can often be confused for other diseases or problems. Nevertheless, when you experience multiple symptoms of pituitary tumors mentioned above, you should visit a doctor

Apollo Hospitals have world-class specialists who can effectively treat pituitary tumors. 

Call 011 4004 3300 to book an appointment.

What are the Treatment Options for Pituitary Tumors?

There are different treatment options to deal with pituitary tumors. Your doctor will decide the best treatment option for you. Below are the various options.

  • Surgery: A surgeon will remove the pituitary tumor during surgery. Surgery is recommended if the tumor overproduces certain hormones or it presses against the optic nerves.
  • Medication: Certain medications can shrink pituitary tumors. In addition, medication can also prevent excessive hormone production. 
  • Radiation therapy: Here, the therapist destroys pituitary tumors using high-energy radiation sources. This option is usually recommended if the tumor returns or persists even after medication and surgery. 

Conclusion

Pituitary tumors can be effectively treated.  Visit your doctor if you experience multiple symptoms of pituitary tumors. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are pituitary tumors part of brain tumours?

In a way, the answer would be yes. A pituitary gland in itself is not made up of brain tissue. However, the pituitary gland is connected to the hypothalamus, a part of the brain. This is why such tumors are treated by neurosurgeons.

Are pituitary tumors life-threatening?

Pituitary tumors are generally not life-threatening. Even if they are not cured, people can live full lives. However, such people may have to face problems related to hormonal imbalance

How common are pituitary tumors?

Pituitary tumors are not very common. Out of every 100,000 people, about 77 are diagnosed with tumors. 

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