Pituitary tumors are tumors of the pituitary gland, which produces hormones to regulate the other glands in the body. These tumors may or may not secrete hormones. Often symptoms develop based on the type of hormone secreted. Some pituitary tumors are treated with medication alone, others with surgery, some with radiation, and some with a combination of all three treatments. Pituitary tumors represent approximately 10-15% of all brain tumors. They are most common in the third and fourth decade of life, and males and females are equally affected.
Most pituitary tumors are curable. If the tumor is small and not secreting any hormones, observation and regular MRIs may be all that is necessary to see if the tumor changes over time. If surgery is required, there are two main techniques:
- Transsphenoidal – through the nose. This approach leaves no visible scars on the patient. Small incisions are made at the gum line under the lip.
- Transcranial – through the skull. If the tumor large, this approach may be necessary.
Radiation can also be used for pituitary tumors, particularly those that return after surgery. In other cases, medications may be used to block the pituitary gland from producing too many hormones.