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Pituitary Tumors

A tumor that forms in the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is a pea-sized organ at the base of the brain.

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Pituitary Tumors

A pituitary tumor is a growth of abnormal cells in the tissues of the pituitary gland.

Pituitary tumors form in the pituitary gland, a pea-sized organ in the center of the brain, just above the back of the nose. The pituitary gland is sometimes called the "master endocrine gland" because it makes hormones that affect the way many parts of the body work. It also controls hormones made by many other glands in the body.

Pituitary tumors are divided into three groups:

Read more about Pituitary Tumors

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Intracystic bleomycin for children with cystic craniopharyngiomas

Craniopharyngiomas are rare, slow‐growing, benign tumours in the hypothalamic‐pituitary region of the brain. Although they are benign, i.e. the tumour lacks the ability to invade neighbouring tissue or metastasise (spread to other sites), there is considerable morbidity and disability even when the tumour can be resected completely. Cystic craniopharyngiomas are the most common type of craniopharyngiomas. They consist of a solid portion that contains fluid‐filled balloon‐like structures (cysts). Cysts are a problem because secretion of fluid into them allows the tumour to increase in size, which puts pressure on parts of the brain and can cause damage. Radical resection (removal by surgery) alone is not sufficient because the rate of recurrence is high and this procedure has a high risk of endocrinological/neurological deficits such as blindness; loss of control of appetite, urine production, emotional behaviour and physical co‐ordination; memory loss; sleep disturbances; cessation of growth and sexual development; low thyroxine levels; hydrocephalus (high pressure inside the skull); and death. While in adults radiotherapy represents a valid postoperative adjunctive (additional) therapy, in children it has a high risk of side effects including further damage to any remaining sight, with reduction of intelligence quotient (IQ) and ability to perform complex tasks in later life. Intracystic bleomycin (i.e. a type of chemotherapeutic agent injected into the cyst) has been used to potentially decrease the damage associated with cystic craniopharyngioma.

Gamma knife surgery for patients with volumetric classification of nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas: a systematic review and meta-analysis

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to scrutinize the literature to determine the efficacy and safety of gamma knife surgery (GKS) for the treatment of nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas (NFPAs) with volumetric classification.

Purely endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery versus traditional microsurgery for resection of pituitary adenomas: systematic review

OBJECTIVE: To determine, in a systematic review, whether purely endoscopic transsphenoidal resection of pituitary adenomas offers improved outcomes and decreased complications compared to the traditional microscopic approach.

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Summaries for consumers

Intracystic bleomycin for children with cystic craniopharyngiomas

Craniopharyngiomas are rare, slow‐growing, benign tumours in the hypothalamic‐pituitary region of the brain. Although they are benign, i.e. the tumour lacks the ability to invade neighbouring tissue or metastasise (spread to other sites), there is considerable morbidity and disability even when the tumour can be resected completely. Cystic craniopharyngiomas are the most common type of craniopharyngiomas. They consist of a solid portion that contains fluid‐filled balloon‐like structures (cysts). Cysts are a problem because secretion of fluid into them allows the tumour to increase in size, which puts pressure on parts of the brain and can cause damage. Radical resection (removal by surgery) alone is not sufficient because the rate of recurrence is high and this procedure has a high risk of endocrinological/neurological deficits such as blindness; loss of control of appetite, urine production, emotional behaviour and physical co‐ordination; memory loss; sleep disturbances; cessation of growth and sexual development; low thyroxine levels; hydrocephalus (high pressure inside the skull); and death. While in adults radiotherapy represents a valid postoperative adjunctive (additional) therapy, in children it has a high risk of side effects including further damage to any remaining sight, with reduction of intelligence quotient (IQ) and ability to perform complex tasks in later life. Intracystic bleomycin (i.e. a type of chemotherapeutic agent injected into the cyst) has been used to potentially decrease the damage associated with cystic craniopharyngioma.

Cancer-Related Post-traumatic Stress (PDQ®): Patient Version

Expert-reviewed information summary about post-traumatic stress and related symptoms in cancer patients, cancer survivors, and their family members. Assessment and treatment of these symptoms are discussed.

Pituitary Tumors Treatment (PDQ®): Patient Version

Expert-reviewed information summary about the treatment of pituitary tumors.

See all (23)

Terms to know

Adenoma
A tumor that is not cancer. It starts in gland-like cells of the epithelial tissue (thin layer of tissue that covers organs, glands, and other structures within the body).
Carcinoma
Carcinoma is a cancer found in body tissues that cover or line surfaces of organs, glands, or body structures.
Endocrine Glands
A group of specialized cells that release hormones into the blood. For example, the islets in the pancreas, which secrete insulin, are endocrine glands.
Hormones
A messenger molecule that helps coordinate the actions of various tissues; made in one part of the body and transported, via the bloodstream, to tissues and organs elsewhere in the body.
Neoplasm (Tumor)
An abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Neoplasms may be benign (not cancer), or malignant (cancer). Also called tumor.
Pituitary Gland
A pea-sized gland at the base of the brain that regulates the body's balance of hormones.

More about Pituitary Tumors

Photo of an adult

Also called: Pituitary tumours, Tumours of the pituitary gland, Neoplasms of the pituitary gland, Tumors of the pituitary gland

Other terms to know: See all 6
Adenoma, Carcinoma, Endocrine Glands

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