Pituitary tumors are abnormal growths which have developed on a person’s pituitary gland. The pituitary gland controls certain hormone production and for some pituitary tumors can cause excessive production of hormone which regulate important bodily functions. In other situations, the tumor can cause the pituitary gland to produce lower levels of hormones. Most pituitary tumors are adenomas, or noncancerous growths, and remain in the pituitary gland without spreading.
The symptoms caused by a pituitary tumor will depend on whether the tumor is called excessive or reduced hormone production and if the tumor is putting pressure on the gland.
If the tumor is causing pressure, symptoms can include headache, unintended weight loss or gain, sexual dysfunction, and less frequent or no menstruation. When the tumor causes stimulation of the adrenal glands it can cause a hump in the upper back, high blood sugar, bruising, and fat accumulation. When the tumor release growth hormones it can cause increased body hair, joint pain, misaligned teeth, and enlarged hands and feet. Prolactin-secreting tumors cause irregular periods, erectile dysfunctions, and infertility in men. Lastly, thyroid-stimulating tumors cause sudden weight loss, irregular heartbeat, feeling warm or hot, and sudden weight loss. These tumors can cause many other symptoms and it is important to talk about everything you may be experiencing with the doctor.
Treatment will depend on the type of tumor, how large it is, and how far it has grown into the patient’s brain. A person’s age and overall health will also play a role. Treatment will commonly involve a team of experts, including an endocrinologist, and may involve a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and medications. The key will be to remove any pressure caused by the tumor and to return hormone levels and production to normal.
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