What causes this condition?
Pituitary tumors are abnormal growths in the pituitary gland - a small gland within the brain that secretes various hormones. These tumors, which make up 10% of cancers in the skull, originate most often in the front of the pituitary (called the adenohypophysis). They occur in adults of both sexes, usually during the third and fourth decades of life. The prognosis is fair to good, depending on the extent of tumor spread.
What causes it?
Although the exact cause is unknown, a predisposition to pituitary tumors may be inherited.
What are its symptoms?
As a pituitary adenoma grows, it enlarges the sella turcica, which contains the pituitary gland. Symptoms reflect the tumor's effect on both neurologic and endocrine function.
How is it diagnosed?
How is it treated?
Surgical options include transfrontal removal of a large tumor impinging on the optic apparatus and transsphenoidal resection for a smaller tumor confined to the pituitary fossa.
Radiation is the primary treatment for small, nonsecretory tumors that don't extend beyond the sella turcica or for people who may be poor surgical risks; otherwise, it's used as an adjunct to surgery.
Postoperative treatment includes hormone replacement with cortisone, thyroid hormone, and sex hormones; correction of electrolyte imbalances; and insulin therapy as needed.
Drug therapy may include bromocriptine, which shrinks prolactin-secreting and growth hormone-secreting tumors, and cyproheptadine, which can reduce corticosteroid levels in the person with Cushing's syndrome.
Adjuvant radiation therapy is used when only partial removal of the tumor is possible. Freezing the area with a probe inserted transsphenoidally is a promising alternative to surgical dissection of the tumor.
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