Pituitary Tumors: Overview, Symptoms, and Treatment Methods
The pituitary tumors or pituitary gland tumors are the abnormal growths which develop in the pituitary gland. This gland is located at the base of the brain.
It influences almost every part of the body. The pituitary gland is smaller in size.
These pituitary tumors restrict the pituitary gland from producing the hormones which regulate various functions.
Majority of the pituitary tumors are not malignant meaning they are noncancerous or benign. They are called the adenomas which do not spread to other areas or regions from the pituitary gland in which they are originated.
The pituitary tumors cause exactly is unknown. Pituitary tumors which are not cancerous do not spread but grow in size in due course of time. Due to this overgrowth the pituitary gland is damaged and compressed. The hormone production of the pituitary gland is interfered.
Pituitary Tumor Symptoms
Pituitary tumors are of two major types. They are the functioning and the nonfunctioning. The former produce hormones the later don't produce any hormones. Functioning and nonfunctioning pituitary tumor symptoms and signs include:
- Severe and regular headaches
- As the optic nerve gets compressed due to the growth of the tumor the vision is impaired
- Cold intolerance
- Clear, watery nasal drainage
- Hair loss
- Tiredness or Weakness or Fatigue
- Nausea or Vomiting may also be the pituitary tumor symptoms
- Low blood pressure
- Either unintentional weight loss or gain
Pituitary Tumor Treatment
The most common method of pituitary tumor treatment is surgery. Surgery helps in removing the tumor. Along with the surgery the radiation therapy and the medications are used to control the growth of the tumor. The hormone production is also corrected through the medications.
The pituitary tumor treatment totally depends on type of tumor whether functional or nonfunctional, its size and to what extent the tumor has spread in the brain. The patient age and overall health are also taken into consideration.
Pituitary Tumor Surgery
Usually the surgery is performed in almost all the cases of pituitary tumors. As these tumors compress the optic nerve, which in turn causes loss of vision surgery becomes necessary.
How far the pituitary tumor surgery gives good results depends totally on the factors such the tumor type, its location, its size, and whether the tumor has spread to the nearby areas or tissues. The two main pituitary tumors surgery techniques for treatment are Transsphenoidal hypophysectomy and the Transcranial hypophysectomy.
The former requires no external incision and is useful only for removing small tumors without leaving any scar. The later procedure is implemented in more advanced cases where the tumor is large. An incision in made in the upper part of the skull.
The radiation therapy uses high energy rays shrink or destroy the tumors. The radiation therapy is of two major types the external beam radiation and the gamma-knife radio surgery. Either of these methods can be used before or after surgery depending on the condition. This is used before surgery in some cases where there is no possibility of removing the tumor by surgical method, after the surgery to relieve the symptoms.
The method of treating the pituitary tumors through medications or drugs is called the drug therapy or the chemotherapy. This method helps in shrinking the tumors to a certain extent and also helps to block the excess hormone secretion
Sometimes the medications may alone be able to treat the pituitary tumor without having any need to perform surgery or even radiation therapy. There are different medications or drugs available for different types of pituitary tumors.