PITUITARY CANCER



The pituitary gland is a very small pea sized gland that regulates the functioning of other glands and human body. When pituitary cells over grow, they may give rise to tumors that can be benign or malignant. But most of the tumors of pituitary are noncancerous or benign. Cancerous pituitary tumors are extremely rare.

Cause of Pituitary cancer

Although the real cause of pituitary cancer is not known but a small percentage of pituitary tumor cases runs in families, but most have no apparent hereditary factor.

Symptoms of a Pituitary cancer 

The major manifestation of pituitary cancer is either over or decreased production of hormones and may show following symptoms:

  • Hypersecretion of hormones
  • Flushing of the face
  • Weakness of muscles and bones
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Joint pain
  • Headache
  • Vision loss , particularly peripheral vision
  • Large sized hands and feet (acromegaly)
  • Presence of milk in breast even if not pregnant
  • Lack of milk when breastfeeding
  • Excess sweating
  • Menstrual cycle changes (Less frequent or no menstrual periods)
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Impotence
  • Loss of body hair
  • Acne
  • Feeling cold
  • Delayed sexual development and growth in children
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Increased amount of urine
  • Bruising easily
  • Irritability, anxiety, depression
  • Nausea & vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Runny nose due to cerebrospinal fluid leaking into the nose

Diagnosing Pituitary Cancer

A malignant or cancerous pituitary tumor is very difficult to differentiate from benign tumor. A pituitary cancer may not be diagnosed until it spreads to other parts of the body like brain, spinal cord or meninges. Its diagnosis requires following examinations:

  • Blood and urine tests to determine hormone levels
  • MRI or CT scans to detect tumors in the pituitary gland
  • Vision testing

Treatment for Pituitary Cancer

Treatment of pituitary cancer depends upon the size and extent of the tumor along with its hormone producing nature. It may include:

  • Surgery to remove the pituitary gland by any of the following approach:
  • Endoscopic transnasal transphenoidal approach
  • Transcranial approach (craniotomy)
  • Gamma Knife stereotactic radiosurgery
  • External beam radiation
  • Proton beam therapy
  • Drug therapy to shrink or destroy the tumor
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