Pituitary Neoplasms

Pituitary Neoplasms: Types, Causes, and Treatment

Cortisol-producing pituitary adenomas, also referred to as pituitary neoplasms, are abnormal growths of cells in the pituitary gland. They can grow large enough to disturb surrounding brain structures and cause vision and other neurological problems. Pituitary neoplasms can be benign or malignant.

Types of Pituitary Neoplasms

The two main types of pituitary neoplasms are adenomas and carcinomas. Adenomas are most commonly found in the pituitary gland. They usually start as small benign tumors, and can grow very slowly over time. Carcinomas are less common, and are more aggressive and fast-growing tumors that originate in the pituitary gland or spread from another part of the body.

Causes of Pituitary Neoplasms

The cause of pituitary neoplasms is unknown. However, researchers believe that certain factors may increase your risk of developing a pituitary tumor. These risk factors include:

  • Family history of pituitary tumors
  • Female sex
  • Older age
  • Exposure to radiation or certain chemicals

Symptoms of Pituitary Neoplasms

Symptoms of a pituitary neoplasm can vary, depending on the size and type of tumor. Common symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Vision problems, such as blurring or double vision
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hormone problems, such as irregular periods in women and impotence in men
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Increase in pressure in the brain and spinal column
  • Trouble with coordination, balance, and memory

Diagnosis and Treatment of Pituitary Neoplasms

If your doctor suspects that you may have a pituitary tumor, they may order a series of tests to confirm the diagnosis. These tests may include imaging tests, such as an MRI, CT scan, or x-ray. Your doctor may also order blood and urine tests to evaluate hormone levels.

Treatment for pituitary neoplasms depends on the size and type of tumor, as well as the symptoms and overall health of the patient. Options may include observation, medications, or surgery. Your doctor may also recommend radiation therapy or chemotherapy.