- Resources for Patients
- The Endocrine System
- What is an Endocrinologist?
- What Do Hormones Do?
- Endocrine Diseases and Conditions
- Myth vs. Fact
- Downloadable Resources
- Cooking for Pleasure and Health
- Menopause Map
- Living Your Best Life with Diabetes
- Resources for Health Professionals
- En Español
- Endocrinology: Science & Policy
While some tumors of the pituitary are troublesome because they secrete too many hormones that upset the balance of good health, other tumors of the pituitary do not secrete hormones. Instead, they cause health problems because of their size and location. A non-functioning adenoma is one example.
This nonfunctioning adenoma may cause headaches and vision problems. This type of pituitary gland tumor also may cause hyposecretion, so the pituitary does not produce enough of the hormones necessary for good health. A non-functioning adenoma often is found when doctors obtain an MRI after a head injury or for some other reason. The symptoms of non-functioning adenomas fall into two categories - tumor mass effects or hyposecretion effects.
Tumor mass effects
The first therapy your doctor probably will recommend is transsphenoidal microsurgery, through the nasal sinuses, especially if your vision is disturbed or you have compressed nerves around your brain, inside of your skull. After surgery, visual field problems improve in the majority of patients.
Hormone replacement may be necessary to correct the hormone imbalance and restore normal hormone levels. If you have significant tumor remaining or the tumor regrows, you may need more surgery and/or radiation therapy.
Craniopharyingiomas and Rathke's cleft cysts
Craniopharyngiomas and Rathke's cleft cysts are lesions that are non-cancerous growths, but they may be mistaken for a pituitary gland tumor on an MRI scan. While they are not tumors, they can interfere with normal pituitary processes in much the same way. They are common during childhood, but can grow and cause problems in adults.
Symptoms of Craniopharyngiomas and Rathke's cleft cysts are similar:
The primary treatment is surgery. The goal is to completely remove the pituitary gland tumor or cyst and preserve normal pituitary, brain, and visual function. If the mass located in the area of the pituitary, the surgery probably will be through your nasal sinuses (transsphenoidal). If the tumor is found above your pituitary, your surgeon may have to go in through the skull. If the tumor cannot be completely removed, radiation treatment may be recommended.