The pituitary gland is a small area of the brain that plays an important role—it secretes essential hormones into the bloodstream. When there is an abnormal growth on your pituitary gland, it is referred to as a pituitary tumor. While it is very rare for these tumors to be malignant, even benign pituitary tumors can cause the pituitary gland to malfunction and secrete too many or too few hormones. The most common type of pituitary tumor is called pituitary adenoma. Treatment for pituitary tumors often involves surgery to remove the tumor along with radiation therapy.
What are hormones?
To better comprehend how a pituitary tumor can affect the health of an individual, it’s important to understand the function of hormones. While many people think of hormones in relation to sexual function, these chemical messengers actually play a key role in the way our bodies function as a whole. They control our stress response, growth and development, organ function and metabolism. The pituitary gland is essentially the master gland of the endocrine system, helping to alert other endocrine glands when they need to stimulate or inhibit their hormone production. With a pituitary tumor pressing on the pituitary gland, this signaling system breaks down.
What are the symptoms of pituitary tumors?
The symptoms of pituitary tumors vary widely, based on the type of tumor it is and whether it is growing in the anterior or posterior area of the pituitary gland. Some common symptoms include:
- Vision problems
- Dry skin
- Irregular periods in women
- Sexual dysfunction in men
- Unexplained weight loss or gain
- Muscle weakness
- Growth problems
Moffitt Cancer Center’s approach to treating pituitary tumors
Moffitt Cancer Center offers diagnosis, treatment and supportive care services for patients with pituitary tumors. Our Neuro-Oncology Program is home to a multispecialty team of neurosurgeons, head and neck surgeons, and radiation oncologists who provide a comprehensive, collaborative approach. The central component of our treatment protocol is our tumor board that meets regularly to ensure each patient receives a plan that is tailored to his or her unique needs. We also have experienced endocrinologists and supportive care specialists on hand to help patients navigate the unique challenges that a pituitary tumor diagnosis can bring.
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Michael Vogelbaum, Program Leader, Department of Neuro-Oncology.
Contact Moffitt today to learn more about our pituitary tumor treatment approach. To schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, call us at 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online.