The pituitary gland, or hypophysis, is attached to the base of the brain and releases hormones that regulate the onset of puberty, our sexual development and our ability to reproduce.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke explains that when this gland is compromised, it can cause for too many or too little hormones to be produced. This can cause some tumors to grow that disrupt its normal functioning, but that usually do not lead to health problems.
Tumors that produce hormones or interfere in the balance of the body’s hormones are common and are found in endocrine disruption conditions such as Cushing’s syndrome and hyperthyroidism. Symptoms of tumors in the pituitary gland include headaches, vision problems, nausea, vomiting and abnormalities related to the overproduction of hormones.
The National Cancer Institute highlights the most important key points to know about pituitary tumors:
- They consist of the growth of abnormal cells in the tissues of the pituitary gland.
- Having certain genetic conditions increases the risk of developing a pituitary tumor.
- Imaging studies and tests that examine the blood and urine are used to detect (find) and diagnose a pituitary tumor.
- Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.
In general, treatment depends on what type of tumor it is, how big it is, if it has spread to other tissues, and on the patient’s age and general state of health. There are three ways to treat these tumors: surgical removal of the tumor, radiation therapy and pharmacotherapy (the use of medications to shrink or destroy the tumor).