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Pituitary Tumors

Birmingham Neurosurgery & Spine Group

Neurological Surgery located in Birmingham, AL

Your pituitary is a small but vital gland that produces and regulates several essential hormones. If you develop a pituitary tumor, it could have a severe impact on your life, and you need the team of expert spinal surgeons at Birmingham Neurosurgery & Spine Group in Birmingham, Alabama. They provide a variety of treatments for pituitary tumors, including surgical removal and both gamma knife and CyberKnife® radiation therapies. Call Birmingham Neurosurgery & Spine Group today to find out more.

Pituitary Tumors Q & A

What is the pituitary gland?

The pituitary gland is part of your endocrine system, which produces hormones that regulate various bodily functions.

The pituitary gland releases hormones that affect tissues such as breast milk glands and bones. It also controls hormone release from other glands in your endocrine system, including your thyroid, testes or ovaries, and adrenal glands.

Pituitary hormones include:

  • Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)
  • Growth hormone (GH)
  • Prolactin
  • Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
  • Luteinizing hormone (LH)
  • Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) 

These hormones perform vital functions related to growth and development, reproduction, blood pressure regulation, immune response, metabolism, and digestion.

What is a pituitary tumor?

A pituitary tumor is a growth in your pituitary gland. The majority of pituitary tumors are benign, which means they aren’t cancerous. Pituitary tumors are common and cause little to no symptoms in many people.

Estimates put the number of people who have pituitary tumors at around 20% of the United States population; however, a great many of these people don’t even know they have one.

When pituitary tumors do cause symptoms, it’s usually because the growth is pressing on nerves or damaging the hormone-releasing cells in the gland. If your pituitary isn’t producing enough hormones, it can cause imbalances that affect many of your body’s systems. This lack of production is called hypopituitarism.

Cancerous pituitary tumors are rare, but it’s still essential that you get a prompt, accurate diagnosis if you have any symptoms of pituitary problems. This could involve undergoing diagnostic imaging tests like an MRI scan, or having a biopsy, where a tiny piece of pituitary tissue is removed for testing.

What are the symptoms of a pituitary tumor?

Pituitary tumors can cause an extensive range of symptoms affecting many different functions, for example:

  • Headaches
  • Sight problems
  • Loss of libido
  • Feeling cold
  • Fewer menstrual periods
  • Lack of breast milk
  • Developmental delays
  • Digestive upset
  • Weight changes

Pituitary tumors that affect the production of hormones are known as functioning tumors, and they can cause specific conditions like Cushing’s syndrome, acromegaly, and gigantism.

How are pituitary tumors treated?

If you aren’t experiencing any severe symptoms, then treatment for your pituitary tumor may just involve watchful waiting, which means monitoring the tumor and the development of any symptoms at regular intervals. The size of your tumor, its location and type, and your age and health also influence the best approach to treatment.

Other treatment options include surgery to remove the tumor and chemotherapy to kill tumor cells. The team at Birmingham Neurosurgery & Spine Group also uses:

Gamma knife radiation

Gamma knife radiation is a noninvasive stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) procedure that uses intense beams of gamma rays to target the pituitary tumor with pinpoint accuracy.  

Cyberknife

CyberKnife is an advanced form of SRS that uses ionizing radiation to target the pituitary tumor. Noninvasive image-guided targeting and a robotic system deliver radiation to all parts of the tumor while minimizing exposure to other tissues.

To find out more about pituitary tumors and their treatment, call Birmingham Neurosurgery & Spine Group today.