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QJM. 2013 Jun;106(6):495-504. doi: 10.1093/qjmed/hcs240. Epub 2013 Jan 16.

Macroprolactinoma: a diagnostic and therapeutic update.

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  • 1Department of Endocrinology, Hospital Ramón y Cajal, Ctra. de Colmenar, Km 9, 28034 Madrid, Spain.


Prolactinomas are the most common type of pituitary adenomas. Macroprolactinomas are the name used for these tumors when their size is ≥ 1 cm. These tumors commonly cause symptoms due to the excessive production of prolactin as well as complaints caused by tumor mass and compression of neural adjacent structures. Clinical diagnosis and assessment of macroprolactinoma are based on the measurement of serum prolactin concentrations and the morphological evaluation of the pituitary gland by magnetic resonance imaging. Dopamine agonists are the first-line treatment modality, with cabergoline being preferred to bromocriptine, because of its better tolerance and feasibility of administration. Cabergoline therapy has been reported to achieve normalization of prolactin levels and gonadal function and reduction of tumor volume in >50% of patients with macroprolactinoma. Resistance or intolerance to dopamine agonists are the main indications for transsphenoidal adenomectomy in patients with macroprolactinoma. External radiation therapy has been used in patients with poor response to medical and surgical procedures. Clinically significant tumor growth may occur during pregnancy in women with macroprolactinomas, especially if they have not received prior surgical or radiation therapy. Visual fields should be assessed periodically during pregnancy and therapy with dopamine agonists is indicated if symptomatic tumor growth occurs. Cystic and giant prolactinomas as well as the rare cases of malignant prolactinomas have special peculiarities and entail a therapeutic challenge.

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