How are pituitary symptoms treated?

Most pituitary tumors are not malignant and usually do not spread. However, tumor growth can compress surrounding tissue and continue to secrete high levels of pituitary hormones. Surgery is often necessary to remove the tumor. In some cases, the pituitary tumor is small and does not cause any symptoms, so treatment is deferred. Some specific types of pituitary symptoms can be treated with medication.

Surgical and radiologic treatment of pituitary symptoms

Surgery and radiation therapy may be used alone or in combination to treat pituitary symptoms, especially when severe. These treatments may include:

  • Surgery to remove the tumor to keep it from compressing nearby tissues or secreting excessive amounts of pituitary hormones. Surgery to remove a pituitary tumor can often be performed through the nose, mouth and sinuses. Rarely, surgery will need to be performed through the skull to resolve pituitary symptoms.
  • Radiation directed at a pituitary tumor to stop or slow its growth. This option is sometimes used in combination with surgery, or by itself in people who cannot have surgery for a variety of reasons.

Medications for treatment of pituitary symptoms

Some medications can be used to treat specific types of pituitary symptoms. These medicines include:

  • Bromocriptine (Parlodel) can be used for tumors that secrete prolactin. Bromocriptine can help decrease the release of prolactin and can result in shrinking of the tumor.
  • Cabergoline (Dostinex) can be used for tumors that secrete prolactin. Cabergoline can help decrease the release of prolactin and can result in shrinking of the tumor.
  • Hormone replacement therapy may be necessary in patients with pituitary symptoms. Replacements for growth hormone, adrenal hormones, thyroid hormones, and sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen may be required to help eliminate some of the symptoms caused by a pituitary tumor.
  • Octreotide (Sandostatin) is occasionally used for growth hormone-secreting tumors or thyroid-stimulating hormone-secreting tumors
  • Pegvisomant (Somavert) is occasionally used for growth hormone-secreting tumors

What are the potential complications of pituitary symptoms?

Left untreated, pituitary tumors are associated with a number of complications. Some of these complications can be serious, or even life threatening. You can help minimize your risk of serious complications by following the treatment plan you and your health care professional design specifically for you. Complications of pituitary symptoms include:

  • Acute pituitary hemorrhage (pituitary apoplexy)
  • Adverse effects of treatment
  • Diabetes insipidus
  • Loss of vision and blindness (optic neuropathy)
  • Permanent hormone imbalance, often due to surgical or radiologic intervention
  • Spread of malignant pituitary tumors

References:

  1. Bope ET, Kellerman RD (Eds.) Conn’s Current Therapy. Philadelphia: Saunders, 2013.
  2. Domino FJ (Ed.) Five Minute Clinical Consult. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2013.
  3. Pituitary tumor. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000704.htm.
  4. Pituitary tumor symptoms. Neuroendocrine Clinical Center & Pituitary Tumor Center. http://pituitary.mgh.harvard.edu/pitsympt.htm.
INTRODUCTION

What are the signs of pituitary problems?

Pituitary symptoms occur as a result of changes in the amount of various hormones that are excreted by the pituitary gland. Pituitary symptoms may be caused by too much or too little of the different types of hormones or by imbalances among them. Symptoms may also result from pressure exerted on structures surrounding the pituitary, such as the optic nerve, by tumor or swelling.... Read more about pituitary symptomsintroduction

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of pituitary symptoms?

Pituitary symptoms are caused by a wide variety of conditions. Symptoms tend to occur in groups depending on what type of pituitary hormone is being excessively produced or whether a pituitary tumor is pressing on tissue surrounding the pituitary gland.

Common symptoms of any pituitary tumor or growth

Any pituitary tumor that secretes excess levels of a hormone or compr... Read more about pituitary symptomssymptoms

CAUSES

What causes pituitary symptoms?

Pituitary symptoms are caused by multiple possible conditions. First, a tumor of cells that make a specific pituitary hormone can cause excess secretion of that hormone. Second, a tumor of cells near the pituitary gland can press on the gland, causing release of pituitary hormones. Third, a tumor in or near the pituitary gland can press on and impair the nerves responsible for vision or control... Read more about pituitary symptomscauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Diabetes and the Endocrine System


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