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Pituitary Tumors Treatment Information
Options for treating pituitary tumors include:
- Surgery. In many cases, surgical removal of the tumor is possible. A procedure called transsphenoidal surgery is the most common operation for pituitary tumors and involves taking the growth out through the hollow space behind the nasal passages. A neurosurgeon makes an incision along the nasal septum (cartilage that separates the two sides of the nose) or under the upper lip. This procedure leaves no scar and can allow removal of many tumors. However, it does not work as well for tumors that are large or that have grown into nearby tissues. In such cases, your surgeon may choose a procedure called a craniotomy. This surgery involves making an opening in the skull and working beneath the lobes of the brain. This approach provides a clearer view of nerves and blood vessels. Imaging technologies, such as computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are helpful in planning for pituitary tumor surgery.
- Radiation. This treatment uses high-dose X-rays to kill tumor cells. It can be useful when surgery is not possible or has not completely removed a tumor. It is also an option when a tumor has returned after surgery. A typical radiation schedule involves five treatments a week, with each session lasting 15 to 30 minutes. Treatment is performed by a radiation oncologist and generally continues for four to six weeks. Radiosurgery techniques, such as Gamma Knife and proton beam therapy, can target tumors in a precision manner.
- Medicines. Medicines can be helpful for certain types of pituitary tumors. For example, bromocriptine and cabergoline may shrink tumors that secrete prolactin (prolactinomas). For prolactinomas, the most common type of pituitary tumor, this type of medicine is so effective that surgery is usually not necessary. Medicines can also work for tumors that secrete other hormones, such as growth hormone and corticotropin.
Pituitary Tumors Locations & Physicians
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Pituitary Tumors Support Services
Visit these sites to learn more about pituitary tumors:
A Sampling of Pituitary Tumors Support Services
Hormone Health Network
This website, a service of the Endocrine Society, includes patient guides, fact sheets and a variety of other resources on pituitary tumors and other endocrine disorders.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
This U.S. government agency provides an overview of pituitary tumors, with information on their symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.
Pituitary Network Association
This international nonprofit organization is a source of information and support for patients with pituitary tumors and disorders.
This professional group offers patient-friendly information on disorders that affect the pituitary gland.