Signs and Symptoms of Pituitary Tumors
Pituitary tumor symptoms depend on any factors. Pituitary tumors can be functional, producing increased amount of hormones; or non-functional, producing insignificant amount of hormones. But regardless functional or non-functional, signs and symptomsdepend on the type of the tumor and its size. A pituitary tumor alsoproduces different signs and symptoms depending on the sex and age of the person.
A Pituitary tumor can cause symptoms if it affects the performanceof this gland and causes a decrease in the levels of hormones in the body. For instance, some tumors tend to put pressure on the optic nerve, which leads to vision problems.
In general, pituitary tumor symptoms can be characterized by:
Symptoms related to too much production of certain hormones in the body:
- Easy bruising
- Gigantism (in children)
- Increased blood pressure
- Vision problems, mostly double vision or loss of peripheral vision
- Enlargement of the hands and feet and thickening of the skull and jaw (acromegaly)
- Hyperthyroidism, which can cause sudden weight loss, rapid heartbeat, increased appetite, nervousness and irritability
- Diabetes mellitus, which is characterized by increased urination, thirst, weight loss, fatigue, nausea and vomiting…
Abnormal production of breast milk (galactorrhoea) or disturbances of the menstrual cycle in women.
Symptoms related to too little production of certain hormones in the body, which can be characterized by:
- Decreased libido
- Decreased fertility
- Delayed growth in children
- Menstrual disturbances in women
- Diabetes insipidus which causes extreme thirst and excessive production of urine
- Delayed Growth in children (due to lack of production of certain hormones)
- Erectile dysfunction (impotence), which tends to be associated with lower sperm production in men
- Hypothyroidism, which causes fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold, constipation, hoarsenessand weight gain.
Treatment of Pituitary Tumors
Pituitary tumor treatment depends on the type of tumor, malignant or benign; functional or non-functional; location and size of the tumor: microadenoma (measuring less than 10 mm) ormacroadenoma (measuring more than 10 mm). A team of professional usually assesses and discusses the condition, and then decides an appropriate treatment. The team may include these doctors:
- A neurosurgeon, a professional surgeon in brain, head, neck and spinal cord
- An endocrinologist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of endocrine disorders
- A neurologist, a specialist in the diagnosis and treatment of brain disorders and nervous system
- Ophthalmologist, a health professional in the diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders
- Radiation oncologist who specializes in treating cancer with radiation therapy (radiotherapy)
- And a medical oncologist specializes in treating cancer with chemotherapy and other medications.
Regardless of the professional figures making the decision, the treatment plan must be designed tomeet the unique needs of the patient suffering with the tumor. The goal of the treatment depends on the type of pituitary tumor and can aim for:
- Reducing the secretion of hormones to normal levels
- Treating neurological disorders
- Controlling the growth of the tumor
- Restoring a normal endocrine function
- Helping the patient to maintain normal vision
Pituitary Tumor Treatment options
In general, treatment of pituitary tumors includes surgery to remove the tumor, drug therapy to block the abnormal hormonal secretion and stop the symptoms bothering the patient, and radiotherapy.
Surgery is the primary treatment for most of pituitary tumors. However, drug therapy is often considered as initial treatment in the case of a prolactinoma, a type of noncancerous tumor (adenoma) of the pituitary gland which causes overproduction of prolactin hormone.
For most other tumors, drug therapy and radiation therapy are recommended to patients for whom it was not possible to surgically remove the entire tumor, or to people who cannot have surgerybecause of health status or other medical disorders.
Clinical trials are designed to find new and better methods of prevention, detection and treatment of cancer. However, very few clinical trials are available to patients with pituitary tumors.