The pituitary gland is located behind the nose and attaches directly to the brain. It makes hormones that are important to a number of bodily functions. Sometimes, people develop tumors on the gland. Fortunately, few pituitary glands are cancerous. However, even a benign tumor can cause problems if not addressed, and cancerous tumors require close scrutiny because they can look like benign tumors, even under a microscope.
When the tumor presses against the optic nerve, it can cause vision problems. These tumors also generate other symptoms because they may cause the pituitary gland to produce too much or too little of various hormones.
Diagnosis of Pituitary Tumors
Doctors sometimes have a difficult time diagnosing pituitary tumors, due to a lack of symptoms. In fact, often pituitary tumors come to light following routine brain scans. Pituitary carcinomas, or cancerous tumors, are extremely rare. Doctors typically find these types of tumors after the cancer has spread to the spinal cord, brain, or brain covering. In rare cases, pituitary cancer metastasizes in the heart, liver, or lungs.
Causes, Symptoms and Treatment for Pituitary Tumor
By understanding the causes and risk factors, you can get an idea of what may lay behind your pituitary tumor. You may recognize some of the symptoms below but you need a confirmation from a qualified neurosurgeon, such as Dr. Lewis.
Causes and Risk Factors
Some, but not all, pituitary tumors develop as a result of a genetic condition. Defective genes make it more likely for some people to develop pituitary tumors than others.
The following genetic conditions can predispose you for pituitary tumors:
- Carney complex
- Familial isolated pituitary adenoma, or FIPA (makes your body grow abnormally large)
- McCune-Albright syndrome (causes abnormalities in your skin and bones)
- Isolated familial acromegaly (similar to FIPA)
Request an appointment online to get an expert opinion on your unique circumstances.
Pituitary Tumor Symptoms
Oddly enough, most pituitary tumors show no symptoms, especially smaller ones.
Large tumors can cause the following symptoms:
- Problems with peripheral vision and double vision
- Upset stomach
- Weight changes
- Low sex drive
- Throwing up
- Breast growth
- Feeling cold
- Erectile dysfunction
- Fewer menstrual periods
- Growth delays (children)
Treatment may include surgery, particularly for smaller tumors. Some pituitary tumors are treated through radiosurgery (gamma knife treatment) or external radiation (external beam therapy). In some cases, medicine may help reduce the growth hormone produced by the tumor.
Dr. Lewis is a board-certified neurosurgeon at Jackson Neurosurgery Clinic, who has treated pituitary tumors for 30+ years. He has even taught national courses on pituitary hormone surgeries. Typically, these procedures take about an hour and require an overnight stay for observation.
Dr. Lewis will carefully diagnose your pituitary tumor and provide you with all your treatment options.
Contact us today for an appointment with Dr. Lewis. We’ll find the right solution that works for you. Call us at (601) 366-1011.