Treatment for Pituitary Adenomas

Treatment for a pituitary adenoma, or a benign tumor that develops in the pituitary gland, will vary based on the tumor’s size and whether it is functioning or nonfunctioning. The pituitary gland is a small structure in the skull that regulates hormones and controls other glands throughout the body.

Nonfunctioning adenomas are often asymptomatic, but may require treatment if they grow large enough to press against a nearby nerve or the brain. This can lead to headaches and vision changes. When treatment is necessary, surgery may be recommended to remove a large adenoma (macroadenoma). Radiation therapy is also commonly used to destroy tumor cells that remain after surgery, or can be used as the primary form of treatment for a small tumor (microadenoma).

Functioning adenomas, on the other hand, produce excessive amounts of hormones that can create imbalances and disrupt various bodily functions. Signs of a hormone-producing adenoma may range from rapid weight gain and decreased sex drive to increased sweating and high blood pressure, among dozens of other potential symptoms. Treatment for a functioning tumor can vary based on the type of hormone being produced in excess and the resulting symptoms. For many patients, medication to control symptoms, surgery or radiation therapy – or a combination thereof – is used to treat a functioning adenoma.

In the event that the pituitary gland becomes damaged, hormone replacement therapy may be recommended. In other cases, a “watchful waiting” approach may be taken if a pituitary adenoma does not cause any disruptive symptoms.

Moffitt Cancer Center’s approach to pituitary adenoma treatment

An established leader in endocrine cancer treatment, Moffitt Cancer Center also provides specialized treatment and supportive care to patients with benign tumors like pituitary adenomas. The endocrinologists, head and neck surgeons, medical oncologists and other experts in our Endocrine Program focus exclusively on conditions of the endocrine system and collaborate to create an individualized treatment plan for each patient. To speak with a Moffitt physician about our advanced surgical and nonsurgical treatment options, complete a new patient registration form online or call 1-888-663-3488 to request an appointment. Patients are welcome with or without referrals.