Pituitary Tumor

Even though they usually aren’t cancerous, pituitary tumors can cause problems with hormones and growth. At St. Joseph’s Hospital, our neurosurgeons expertly diagnose and treat pituitary tumors and their symptoms.

Learn more about the St. Joseph’s Cancer Institute, our partner in caring for pituitary tumors.

What is a Pituitary Tumor?

A pituitary tumor is an abnormal growth of cells in the pituitary gland, a gland in the brain that produces and controls hormones. Hormones are chemical substances that control the function of glands such as the pancreas and thyroid. Most pituitary tumors are benign (non-cancerous) and do not spread to other parts of the brain or body.

What Causes a Pituitary Tumor?

Medical experts don’t know exactly what causes pituitary tumors. Some hereditary disorders can increase a person’s risk of developing a pituitary tumor.

Symptoms of a Pituitary Tumor

The main symptom of pituitary tumors is often too much or not enough production of one or more hormones. Problems with hormone levels can cause symptoms including:

  • Unusually rapid growth and excessive height, especially in children
  • Joint pain
  • Abnormal growth of the skull, hands or feet, especially in adults
  • Unexplained weight gain or loss
  • Anxiety and insomnia

Pituitary tumors that don’t produce excess hormones may grow and press on the pituitary gland or nearby areas of the brain, which can cause symptoms such as:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Nasal drainage
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Changes in the sense of smell
  • Vision problems including double vision or loss of peripheral (side) vision

How is a Pituitary Tumor Diagnosed?

In addition to a physical exam and medical history, your doctor may order one or more of the following tests to confirm a pituitary tumor:

  • Eye and visual field exams: Exams that check your eyesight, eye health and field of vision
  • MRI scan: Imaging test that takes pictures of your brain tissue to look for pituitary tumors
  • Blood and urine tests: Tests that measure levels of different hormones in your blood and urine

Treatments for a Pituitary Tumor

At St. Joseph’s Hospital, our specialists will carefully evaluate your pituitary tumor and discuss treatment options with you, which may include:

  • Medications: Drug therapy to reduce excess hormone secretion or symptoms caused by excess hormones
  • Transsphenoidal endoscopic resection: Minimally invasive technique for removing the tumor (occasionally we also need to use a surgical microscope, for a transsphenoidal endoscope-assisted resection) 
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery: Radiation therapy that targets the tumor and minimizes damage to nearby, healthy tissue
  • Radiation therapy: Procedure used either with or without surgery to shrink tumors or stop their growth

Learn more about our transsphenoidal endoscopic resection and stereotactic radiosurgery at St. Joseph’s.

Contact Us

For more information or for a physician referral, please call (813) 644-4322.