Pituitary Tumors

Overview of Pituitary Tumors

The pituitary gland is one of the most important glands in the body as it makes the hormones that control the growth and functionality of other glands in the body.

Tumors are abnormal mass growth and can occur anywhere in the body. The tumors formed in pituitary glands are called pituitary tumors or pituitary adenomas.
The pituitary gland is one of the most important glands in the body as it makes the hormones that control the growth and functionality of other glands in the body. Usually, a tumor developed in this gland is benign, that is, non-cancerous. This means the tumor remains in that particular area only and doesn’t spread in the rest of the body.

Responsibilities of Pituitary Glands

The pituitary gland in the body is responsible for the following functions:

  • Overall growth and development of the body.
  • Controlling and coordinating the organs’ functions. These include: kidney, breast, uterus.
  • Controlling and coordinating different gland functions including thyroid, gonads, and adrenal glands.
  • Abnormal mass production in pituitary glands causes pituitary tumors.

Signs and Symptoms of Pituitary Tumors

Remember at all pituitary tumors cause visible symptoms. The signs and symptoms of pituitary tumors depend upon whether it is functional or not functional. 

  • Functional adenoma - this is the type in which the affected pituitary tumor is making excessive hormones.
  • Non-functional adenoma - this is the type when the affected pituitary tumor is not making hormones.

Consult your doctor immediately if you suffer from any three of the following symptoms:

  • Vision-related issues - these can include blurred vision, double vision, or drooping eyelid
  • Frequent headaches in the forehead area
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Depression/fatigue
  • Growth related issues
  • Joint issues
  • Easy bruising
  • Muscle weakness
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Galactorrhea
  • Disrupted sense of smell
  • Osteoporosis
  • Infertility
  • Unexplained and sudden weight loss
  • Early-onset of menopause

Types of Pituitary Tumors

Based on the size, the pituitary gland can be divided into two categories:

  • Microadenomas - these are tumors that are less than 1 cm in size. As they are smaller in size, the chances of them damaging the other surrounding tissues are next to rare. In many people, this condition goes undiagnosed because the size of the tumor is so small that it apparently makes no symptoms.
  • Macroadenomas - these tumors are larger than 1 cm in size and can affect the human body in two ways.
  • By making excessive levels of hormones - These excessive levels of hormones exhibit different signs and symptoms.
  • By suppressing the normal parts of pituitary glands or other surrounding nerves such as the optic nerves.

Causes of Pituitary Tumors

The cause of abnormal mass growth in the pituitary is still unknown. Basically, it is a very small kidney-shaped gland located at the base of your brain and a little behind your nose and between your ears. Although it is extremely small in size yet it is one of the most important glands in the body.

These tumors do not show any hereditary factors.


Risk Factors of Pituitary Tumors

Are you at risk of developing pituitary tumors?

If you have a family history of a hereditary condition like multiple endocrine neoplasia, type 1 (MEN 1), you have a higher chance of developing this condition. In MEN 1, multiple tumors occur in different glands of the endocrine system. 
Genetic testing is done to diagnose this disorder.


The complication of pituitary tumor involves: 

  • Vision loss 
  • Permanent hormone deficiency



The risk of developing pituitary tumors can be drastically reduced by changing certain lifestyle habits that eventually lead to tumor development. One of the most major reasons for development of pituitary tumors have been not being able to maintain a healthy weight and to excessively smoke.



To diagnose this disease, your doctor would perform the following tests:

  • A physical examination
  • A vision test - to test any vision-related issue such as loss of peripheral vision
  • Hormone testing of the blood
  • Hormone testing of the urine
  • Imaging scans of the brain - MRI produces the most efficient results.

Treatment of Pituitary Tumors | When to Consult a Doctor

Timely detection of a pituitary tumor is the key factor in properly curing it and limiting the damage caused by it. Depending upon the size and location of the tumor, there are three possible treatment options: 

  • Surgery - in this procedure, the tumor is accessed through the nasal cavity using either a microsurgical or endoscopic approach. The surgery itself has few side effects and a good recovery time. The surgery is usually reserved for tumors that are large in size. 

  • Radiation therapy - This therapy uses high-energy X-rays to break down any abnormal tumor cells. This therapy is an effective way to stop the tumor growth and with time shrink it as well. This therapy is done when the medication or surgery is not effective.

  • Medication therapy - generally, medication therapy is the first treatment option. Through mediation, first, the tumor size is decreased. This results in the betterment of vision, relieving headaches, and restores the menstruation cycle in women.

In case you exhibit any concerning signs and symptoms for pituitary tumor, consult a medical professional as soon as possible.