What are pituitary gland tumors?
Pituitary is an endocrine gland located in the inferior section of brain, weighing approximately 0.5 g (like a bean) and releasing various hormones.It extends like a bulge beneath hypothalamus in the base of brain. It is surrounded by dura mater (tough membrane) covering the brain. Pituitary produces and releases hormones and regulates homeostasis. Additionally, it controls endocrine glands and performs all these functions. In this respect, we can say that pituitary gland controls the most significant communication between endocrine and nerve system.
Pituitary gland tumors are often benign and slow-growing. Malignant pituitary gland which is potentially dangerous rarely develops. Pituitary gland tumors develop in the anterior lobe of the brain which constitutes two thirds of the brain. These tumors are classified as “secretory” and “non-secretory”. Excessive production of hormones is associated with secretory tumors. Hormone types secreted by pituitary gland tumor are parameters to detect the further classifications of tumors.
What are the signs of pituitary gland tumor?
Those patients with pituitary gland tumors might sometimes not present with any symptoms of this tumor or might present with other symptoms which are not associated with the disease. Headache and visual disorders are the most frequently detected problems in patients with pituitary gland tumor.
Some of the symptoms which might be detected in those patients with pituitary gland tumor are as follows:
1) Excessive production of hormones:
- Growth of hands and feet,
- Cardiac disease, weight loss, and skin thinning,
- Erectile dysfunction, infertility, osteoporosis, menstrual irregularities and abnormal release of breast milk,
- Fragile bone diseases, weight gaining and easy bruising, and
- Irregular menstrual cycles.
2) Reduced production of hormones:
- Weakened bones,
- Getting angry too easily,
- Inappropriate muscle strength and slow growth in children,
- Inability to gain weight, fatigue, tiredness, constipation,
- Inability to breastfeed,
- Stomach diseases, weakness, low blood pressure and diabetes, and
- Loss of sexual desire and infertility.
Underlying Reasons of Pituitary Gland Tumors
Underlying reason of the pituitary gland tumors is still unknown. Some of the pituitary gland tumors are arisen from hereditary factors while most of them are not hereditary. Scientists believe that pituitary gland tumors develop due to the hereditary changes.
Treatment of Pituitary Gland Tumors
Despite the fact that there are lots of signs of pituitary gland tumors which are growing slowly and which are generally benign, interestingly underlying reason of the pituitary gland tumors is still unknown. Numerous treatment options are applied:
1) Active surveillance
- The patient is exposed to close surveillance, and regular tests are applied. Treatment is initiated if tumor is detected.
2) Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
- In the event that pituitary gland does not produce sufficient hormone due to pituitary gland tumors, hormone replacement therapy turns to be indispensable. Some hormones are subjected to conversion to supply some other hormones your body need. Those hormones released by adrenal glands, thyroid hormones, estrogen in females and testosterone in males as well as growth hormone are required.
3) Medication Therapy
- In the event that pituitary gland tumor causes excessive production of hormones by pituitary gland, medications will be administrated to help the patient.
4) Radiation Therapy
- Use of x rays for ruling out tumor cells is radiation therapy.
5) Surgical Intervention
- Golden standard for surgical intervention is to perform operation with full endoscopic approach via nasal section.
- Duration of surgical procedure is short.
- Intensive care need is less.
- It is aesthetic.
- It is comfortable.
- Severe complications are rare if operation is performed by an experienced surgeon.
- Hospitalization ratio is shorter.
- Reoperation is easy for patients needing reoperation procedure.