Estimated to occur in 10-22% of adults, pituitary tumors are usually noncancerous and may not cause symptoms. When symptoms do develop, surgery is often needed to remove the tumor. Dr. Carrie Shulman at The Florida Center for Neurosurgery provides expert evaluation, talks with you about your options, and uses her extensive experience performing minimally invasive surgery to safely remove your pituitary tumor. To learn more about your individual options, call the office in Clearwater, Tampa Bay, Florida, or book a consultation online.
The pituitary gland is found at the base of your brain in a bony hollow behind your nose. This small, pea-sized gland produces vital hormones, such as growth hormone, that have a direct impact on your health. It also controls other hormone-producing glands such as your thyroid, adrenals, ovaries, and testicles.
Most tumors that develop in the pituitary are adenomas, a type of noncancerous tumor found in glandular tissue. Pituitary adenomas are the most common pituitary gland disease. They commonly develop in your 30s and 40s and usually grow slowly.
Symptoms of a pituitary adenoma depend on the type of tumor. Pituitary adenomas fall into these categories:
These tumors are small, less than one-third of an inch across, so they may not cause symptoms unless they continue to produce hormones. Many possible symptoms develop due to high levels of various hormones, so these are only a few possibilities:
Macroadenomas are at least one-third of an inch across or larger. Their size puts pressure on the pituitary gland and nearby nerves, causing symptoms such as vision loss, headaches, and hormone deficiencies.
Pituitary tumors that produce excess hormones are functional. They can cause diverse symptoms throughout your body depending on the amount and type of hormone produced. About 30% of pituitary tumors are classified as nonfunctional because don’t make enough hormones to be a problem — they’re usually macroadenomas.
Prolactinomas are the most common hormone-producing pituitary tumor. They cause high prolactin levels, which reduces the amount of estrogen and testosterone, causing symptoms such as:
The first line of treatment for a prolactinoma is medication to restore normal hormone levels. Medical management relieves symptoms in about 80% of patients and helps reduce the tumor’s size. Medications may also be used to treat other hormone-producing pituitary adenomas.
When medication doesn’t help, or when you have a macroadenoma, surgical intervention is the next step. Dr. Shulman removes pituitary tumors using minimally invasive surgery, which only requires one incision inside your nose.
Since the tumor is accessed and removed through your nasal cavity, the rest of your brain isn’t touched. You also won’t have visible scarring.
If you have questions about your treatment options, call The Florida Center for Minimally Invasive Neurosurgery or book an appointment online.