Symptoms, risk factors and treatment of pituitary adenoma
Pituitary adenoma is a condition in which a tumor forms on the pituitary gland. They are difficult to diagnose, but fortunately are usually benign and slow-growing. They are also very common, occurring in roughly 1 in every 1,000 people.
Pituitary adenomas have different names, depending on their size. They are categorized as microadenomas if they are less than 1 cm in diameter, and macroadenomas if they are larger than 1 cm.
Pituitary Adenoma Symptoms
Pituitary adenomas are also categorized as either hormone-producing or hormone-inactive, and the two types will have different symptoms. Hormone-producing tumors will cause excess active hormones, so symptoms will be similar to those of a hormone imbalance, such as mood changes, feeling of dread, trouble sleeping, rapid heartbeat and more.
Hormone-inactive tumors typically do not cause symptoms until their size becomes a factor and they begin to push on parts of the brain, which could cause physical or mental symptoms depending on the affected area. Additionally, large tumors can cause pituitary failure, which can lead to fatigue, psychological problems and other side effects.
Other symptoms of pituitary adenoma include headache, hair loss, loss of vision, less frequent periods in women, growth of breast tissue or impotence in men and lowered sex drive.
Pituitary Adenoma Risk Factors
There aren't many risk factors for pituitary adenomas, but the following hereditary conditions have been associated with the condition:
- MEN1 (multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1) syndrome
- Isolated familial acromegaly
- Carney complex
Pituitary Adenoma Treatment
The typical treatment options for pituitary adenoma include surgery, drug therapy, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. These treatments may be used alone or in combination with each other.
When pituitary adenoma surgery is the treatment option, the three types available will include transsphenoidal (an instrument is passed through an incision made under the upper lip or bottom of the nose and through the sphenoid bone), endoscopic (an endoscope is passed through an incision in the inside the back of the nose, then passes through the sphenoid bone) and craniotomy (the tumor is removed through an opening in the skull).
A doctor will determine the precise treatment options and combinations depending on the size and location of the tumor.
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