- 02 January 2019
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Pituitary Tumours – An Overview
What Are Pituitary Tumours?
At the base of your brain, there is a small, pea-sized gland, called the pituitary gland. It is the chief hormonal gland of the body which releases hormones responsible for smooth functioning of other hormonal glands of the body which, in turn, controls your growth, heart rate, fertility and everything else. Now, a pituitary gland tumour is when there is an extra growth of tissue in the pituitary gland.
A very tiny, stagnant growth may even go unnoticed by people. But the problem occurs when the excess tissue hampers the normal functioning of the gland. As long as the tissue does not grow into the surrounding tissues as well, it is classified as benign or non-cancerous.
This blog is about non-cancerous pituitary glands.
What Causes Pituitary Tumours?
There is still no clear cause which initiates the growth of excess tissue in the pituitary gland. There is undeniably a genetic factor. This means that if anyone in your family has a history of a pituitary tumour, you run the risk of getting the condition as well. In addition, if you have/had a tumour in other hormonal glands, you have a higher chance of getting a pituitary tumour.
Some genetic conditions that increase your risk are:
- Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia (type I and type IV)
- Carney Complex
- McCune-Albright Syndrome
- Familial Isolated Pituitary Adenoma
- Isolated Familial Acromegaly
But, remember that in most cases, the cause of a pituitary tumour is not heredity but a sudden genetic alteration.
How Can You Know If You Have Pituitary Tumours?
Like mentioned before, pituitary tumour affects the functioning of the pituitary gland which controls the functioning of the rest of the body. So, when you have a pituitary tumour, the manifestation of the condition can be seen in any place of the body. However, the most common symptoms of a pituitary tumour are:
- Mood swings
- Change in menstrual cycle
- Erectile dysfunction
- Unexplained weight gain
- Enlargement of body extremities
- Problems in vision
The severity of symptoms will vary based on how big the tumour is or the exact area where a tumour is pressing against the gland.
How Do Doctors Diagnose Pituitary Tumours?
It’s not always very easy or obvious even to doctors if the reason behind a certain condition is a pituitary tumour. Many a time, the cause of a certain condition is credited to another health condition and treated accordingly.
Your health complaint can be addressed with various blood tests, ultrasonography, imaging techniques and even physical examination. But to determine if a pituitary tumour is causing it, your doctor will probably rule out other possible conditions first. Having said that, a pituitary tumour can be seen and diagnosed through a brain MRI or a CT scan.
How Are Pituitary Tumours Treated?
Not all pituitary tumours are harmful. If it’s a small tumour and is not hampering the functioning of hormones, there’s no need to worry about it. However, you must keep yourself updated on the status of it; be watchful of if it is growing.
Treatment options may include surgery, radiation therapy, and medicine.
Surgery may be required if a tumour is big and is hampering vital things like vision. Based on the location of a tumour, the surgical incision can be made either through (or near) your nose or through the skull. Either way, there is minimal scarring which can often be hidden. Small tumours can be removed through a sinus incision while more complicated tumours are easier to remove via a skull incision.
High energy X-rays can dissolve tumours in several sittings. It can be used for a small tumour or to remove surgical remnants of a tumour or even a relapse of a tumour. However, radiation therapy is not used to remove very big tumours because sessions of radiation can damage healthy pituitary tissues while dissolving the tumour. So, it is only used for small-scale tumour removal.
Medicine can help in managing some symptoms if a tumour is only affecting the release of a certain hormone. For example, the production of prolactin (that makes breast milk), the misfunction of growth hormones can be managed with medicine. Medicines become essential if the pituitary gland fails to produce enough hormones post-surgery. Generally, these medicines need to be taken daily for a lifetime.
Can You Prevent Pituitary Tumours?
Since there is no particular cause which initiates the growth of a tumour, it is not really possible to prevent it. But if there is a medical history of endocrine tumours in your family, you may consider going for regular checkups. The growth of any a pituitary tumour can be monitored this way and can be treated better before it starts causing much harm. If you have been diagnosed with a pituitary tumour or if you have any nerve or brain-related health concerns, you can approach our neurosurgeon at Sunshine Hospitals for better treatment, care and management.
About The Doctor:
Dr Naveen is an expert in treating patients with a brain tumour. He is one of the best neurosurgeons in Hyderabad and is sought after for some of the most delicate and complicated brain surgeries.
About Sunshine Hospitals:
A Multi Super Speciality Institution, 500 bedded Sunshine Hospitals (Paradise Circle, Secunderabad) is promoted by globally reputed Joint Replacement Surgeon Dr AV Gurava Reddy (Orthopedic Doctor) and like-minded associates who share the objective of making world-standard healthcare available, affordable and accessible to the common man. Sunshine has now become one of the best hospitals for many treatments including Orthopedic, Gastroenterology, Cardiology, Trauma and Neurology.