What Is a Pituitary Adenoma?

A pituitary adenoma is a benign (noncancerous) tumor that develops in the pituitary gland. Pituitary adenomas are the most common type of pituitary tumor, significantly outnumbering malignant (cancerous) pituitary carcinomas and other variants.

Functioning vs. nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas

If a pituitary adenoma produces hormones, it is referred to as a functioning tumor. If it does not produce hormones, it is referred to as a nonfunctioning or nonsecretory tumor. Functioning adenomas may produce just one type of hormone (e.g., thyroid-stimulating hormone or prolactin) or they may produce several different hormones at the same time. This can lead to a variety of symptoms, such as infertility, irregular menstrual cycles in women and impotence in men.

How are pituitary adenomas treated?

Sometimes, the best approach for addressing a pituitary adenoma is to watch the tumor to determine if any action later becomes necessary (an approach known as "watchful waiting" or "active surveillance"). This may be the recommended course of action if a tumor is small and not producing hormones.

For hormone-producing tumors, there are several prescription medications that can help counteract the effects of the excess hormones. Some tumors may also be removed with surgery or destroyed with radiation therapy.

Hormone replacement therapy after pituitary adenoma treatment

If the pituitary gland is removed or damaged during treatment, hormone replacement therapy may be recommended. Medications can be prescribed to replace:

  • Thyroid hormones
  • Growth hormones
  • Adrenal hormones
  • Testosterone (in men)
  • Estrogen (in women)

At Moffitt Cancer Center, we provide a comprehensive range of pituitary adenoma treatments in one place. Experienced endocrinologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, head and neck surgeons and supportive care professionals all work hand-in-hand in a collaborative environment, allowing us to combine evidence-based best practices to deliver the newest and most effective treatments. And, no referral is required to schedule an appointment.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a pituitary adenoma and would like to explore your treatment options at Moffitt, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online to request an appointment.