The pituitary gland is a vital part of the endocrine system. As tiny as a pea, and located towards the bottom center of the brain, the pituitary gland secretes hormones that stimulate other endocrine glands to function properly. The pituitary gland helps regulate metabolic functions, as well as growth, reproduction and blood pressure levels.
Pituitary tumors are growths on the gland. Pituitary tumors can cause either too much or too little hormone production. In most cases, these tumors do not spread and are not considered to be cancerous.
People are at a higher risk for developing pituitary tumors due to particular factors. These may include:
Since the pituitary gland regulates many other hormone-producing organs, symptoms can vary, depending on the affected area. In addition, sometimes pituitary tumors secrete hormones themselves, causing biochemical symptoms.
Three or more of the following symptoms are generally present because of pituitary tumors:
Hormone-producing pituitary tumors can result in the following symptoms:
Your doctor can detect the presence of a pituitary tumor in the following ways:
A Diagnosis of a Pituitary Tumor
After examining the results of one or more of these tests, your doctor may inform you that you have a pituitary tumor. Since the gland affects so many different bodily functions, the specific diagnosis is based on where the tumor is causing the majority of symptoms.
Treatment varies according to the size of the tumor, what structure it is affecting and how deeply embedded in the brain. With early detection and treatment, the prognosis for recovery is generally excellent.