Pituitary TumorsThe pituitary gland is a small, pea-sized organ in the brain behind the back of the nose. The pituitary gland produces hormones that affect many other glands in the body. Although rare, most pituitary tumors are noncancerous (benign), comprising only 10 percent of brain tumors. However, because of the location of the pituitary gland, at the base of the skull, a pituitary tumor grows upward. And, eventually, many pituitary tumors press against the optic nerves, causing vision problems.
What Are Symptoms Of Pituitary Tumors?
Symptoms vary depending upon what type of tumor is growing and what area of the pituitary gland is affected. Pituitary tumors can cause symptoms that are caused by excess production of pituitary hormones and symptoms caused by reduced production of pituitary hormones.
Symptoms related to tumor pressure
Signs and symptoms of extraneous pressure from a pituitary tumor can include: -
- Vision loss, particularly loss of peripheral vision
- Clear, watery nasal drainage
- Nausea and vomiting
- Symptoms of pituitary hormone deficiency
- Cold intolerance
- Low blood pressure
- Body hair loss
- Sexual dysfunction
- Unintended weight loss or gain
CausesThe pituitary gland is a small bean-shaped gland located at the base of your brain, somewhat behind your nose and between your ears. Despite its small size, the gland influences nearly every part of your body. The hormones it produces help regulate important functions, such as growth, blood pressure and reproduction.
The cause of uncontrolled cell growth in the pituitary gland, creating a tumor, remains unknown. A small percentage of pituitary tumor cases run in families, but most have no apparent hereditary factor. Still, scientists suspect that genetic alterations play an important role in how pituitary tumors develop.
What Is The Prognosis?
If diagnosed early enough, the prognosis is usually excellent. If diagnosis is delayed, even a non-functioning tumor can cause problems if it grows large enough to press on the optic nerves, the brain, or the carotid arteries (the vessels that bring blood to the brain). Early diagnosis and treatment is the key to a good prognosis.
Treatment Optionstandard treatment are used: -
SurgeryMany pituitary tumors can be removed by surgery using one of the following operations: -
- Transsphenoidal surgery: - A type of surgery in which the instruments are inserted into part of the brain by going through an incision (cut) made under the upper lip or at the bottom of the nose between the nostrils and then through the sphenoid bone (a butterfly-shaped bone at the base of the skull) to reach the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland lies just above the sphenoid bone.
- Endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery: - A type of surgery in which an endoscope is inserted through an incision (cut) made at the back of the inside of the nose and then through the sphenoid bone to reach the pituitary gland. An endoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light, a lens for viewing, and a tool for removing tumor tissue.
- Craniotomy: -Surgery to remove the tumor through an opening made in the skull. Even if the doctor removes all the cancer that can be seen at the time of the surgery, some patients may be given chemotherapy or radiation therapy after surgery to kill any cancer cells that are left. Treatment given after the surgery, to lower the risk that the cancer will come back, is called adjuvant therapy.
Risk factorsAlthough pituitary tumors can occur at any age, they're most likely to occur in older adults. People with a family history of multiple endocrine neoplasia, type I (MEN I) have an increased risk of pituitary tumors. In MEN I, multiple tumors occur in various glands of the endocrine system. Genetic testing is available for this disorder.
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