Pituitary adenomas originate in the pituitary gland, which controls the secretion of hormones from other endocrine glands in the body. These slow-growing tumors are common, treatable and typically not cancerous. Treatment often requires a coordinated, multi-disciplinary approach because of the pituitary gland’s important role in the body.
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Pituitary adenomas can be classified by their size. Small tumors are called microadenomas and larger ones are called macroadenomas. They are also categorized by whether they impact hormone production.
Non-hormone secreting (non-functional) – Pituitary adenomas that don’t release hormones can be small and not cause symptoms. However, symptoms can occur when the tumor gets larger and presses on the nearby optic nerves and brain. When the tumor compresses the normal pituitary gland, it can reduce the production of normal hormones (hypopituitarism).
Hormone secreting (functional) – Some pituitary tumors lead to overproduction of certain hormones (Cushing’s syndrome, acromegaly or hyperthyroidism). These excess hormones (ACTH, GH, TSH and PRL) can interfere with a wide variety of bodily functions.
Pituitary adenomas are diagnosed through a physical exam and specialized testing. Diagnosis can be challenging because of the wide variety of hormone-related symptoms they can cause. Specialized tests can include:
An exact diagnosis can only be confirmed once the tumor has been removed. Tissue analysis by a neuropathologist defines the diagnosis and genetic profile of the tumor.
Our team will develop a personalized treatment plan for you based on your tumor’s hormonal activity, size and location along with your age, health and symptoms. Certain tumors present technical challenges because they adhere to vital neural and vascular structures at the base of the brain.
Treatment could include a combination of:
After surgery, tumor tissue is microscopically examined to establish an accurate diagnosis and subtype, which help determine the next steps in treatment.
Our team will closely monitor you and personalize your follow-up care. Our patient navigator will also connect you with our support group and other resources.