Medical Q&As

Pituitary tumour - treatment?

Could you please tell me what is the cause of a pituitary tumour and what treatment is required?

A tumour of the pituitary gland is also known as a pituitary adenoma. The pituitary gland produces a wide range of hormones and a tumour within the gland may result in either overproduction or under production of these hormones. The gland produces a diverse range of hormones including the following: 1. Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), which stimulates the thyroid gland to produce thyroid hormone, 2. Growth Hormone (GH), which regulates growth, 3. Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH), which stimulates the adrenal glands to produce cortisol, 4. Antidiuretic Hormone (ADH), which regulates urine production, 5. Luteinising Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), which both regulate sex hormone production and sperm and egg production, 6. Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone (MSH), which controls pigmentation of the skin, 7. Oxytocin, which ejects milk from the breast during breastfeeding and also stimulates the womb to contract following birth and finally 8. Prolactin, which stimulates milk secretion within the breast. A pituitary tumour can result in overproduction of some or all of these hormones therefore the pattern of symptoms very much depends on which hormones are being over produced. Sometimes a pituitary tumour can result in insufficient production of such hormones. This is called hypopituitarism and this can occur as a result of head injury, surgery, bleeding into the pituitary gland and radiation therapy or surgery to the pituitary gland. When the pituitary gland enlarges it may also inflict pressure on surrounding structures giving rise to various neurological symptoms. Therefore the treatment depends on which functions of the gland are affected. Treatment could involve surgical removal of the tumour or irradiation of the tumour and will usually require a combination of hormone treatments to regulate the imbalance or the deficiency of hormone production in the pituitary gland.