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Pituitary Tumors

The pituitary gland is a hormone-producing organ located behind the bridge of the nose. Though it is only the size of a pea, it is sometimes called the body’s “master gland” because it regulates the hormone output of other glands, such as the thyroid. It can also affect other tissues, including the bones. The pituitary gland can be the site of several types of tumors.

Most pituitary tumors are benign (not cancerous). Still, as they grow, such tumors can cause problems such as hormone imbalances, headaches and—if they press on the optic nerve— changes to your vision. In many cases, though, there are no symptoms.

Hormones secreted by the pituitary gland include prolactin, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), growth hormone (GH), thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). Pituitary tumors may cause you to have too much or too little of these hormones. Conditions that can result include:

  • Prolactinoma. In women, symptoms of excess prolactin production include irregular or absent menstrual cycles and the onset of breast milk production. Men may experience loss of libido, fatigue and decreased muscle strength.
  • Cushing’s disease. This condition, which is one form of Cushing syndrome, results from having too much adrenocorticotropic hormone. Symptoms include upper-body obesity, purple marks on the skin and thinning of the bones.
  • Gigantism. If a tumor produces too much growth hormone when you are a child, you may experience quick growth, extreme height and joint pain.
  • Acromegaly. This condition is the result of having too much growth hormone as an adult. Symptoms include growth in the hands, feet, jaw and other tissues, along with a deepened voice and joint pain.
  • Hyperthyroidism. In this condition an oversupply of thyroid hormone causes symptoms such as a rapid heart rate, fatigue and nervousness. Pituitary tumors causing hyperthyroidism are extremely rare.

Physicians do not know what causes most pituitary tumors, although some are the result of a genetic disorder called multiple endocrine neoplasia I (MEN I). Fortunately, when we find a pituitary tumor early, the prognosis is typically excellent.

We treat pituitary tumors to relieve hormonal imbalances and help you avoid health complications. Our experts thoroughly evaluate these tumors using advanced technology backed by our clinical skill before presenting you with a complete set of therapy options.

At Indiana University Health, you are a vital member of your healthcare team. We work closely with you to develop a treatment plan based on your specific symptoms, concerns and preferences.

For a condition as complex as a pituitary tumor, experience matters. At IU Health, you can be assured that you will receive comprehensive care from a team of experienced and dedicated endocrinologists, neurosurgeons, neuroradiologists and other professionals.

Through our partnership with Indiana University School of Medicine, we have access to the latest options for diagnosing and treating pituitary tumors. We also carry out research to improve care for endocrine disorders, and we take an active role in preparing the next generation of physicians.

How We Can Help

How We Can Help

Pituitary Tumors Treatment Information

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Pituitary Tumors Support Services

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