What is Pituitary Adenoma?
This is an abnormal growth of cells in your anterior pituitary gland and is also called pituitary gland tumors. Your pituitary glad is and endocrine gland and is oval-shaped. Your pituitary glad releases hormones directly into your bloodstream instead of circulating them with the help of ducts. It is located at the base of your brain and has been referred to as your master gland or hypophysis. The gland only weighs approximately point five grams and is about the size of a pea. It is indirectly responsible for homeostasis, which is keeping your body’s internal environment stable. The pituitary gland also secretes many hormones which are essential for growth and reproduction. It also helps to activate other glands into producing hormones.
You will most likely to see pituitary adenoma in adults, from the young to the middle-aged. When you have pituitary adenoma it can affect your body’s metabolism in two ways.
- Hypersecretion – this is when your pituitary glad secretes more than the normal amount of pituitary hormones.
- Hyposecretion – this is when your pituitary gland does not produce enough pituitary hormones.
Pituitary Adenoma Symptoms
The symptoms that you see with pituitary adenoma are usually directly related to the secretion of pituitary hormones that are abnormal. There are different categories of pituitary adenoma which have their own symptoms that depend on which hormone is affected plus there are different symptoms for men and women and tumor mass effect. Symptoms also vary from patient to patient where some may not have any symptoms at all.
Prolactin-secreting adenomas – women
- Irregular or stopping of their menses
- Discharge from their nipples
- Excessive hair growth in their body
- Low bone density
- May have difficulty getting pregnant
- Decreased sex drive
Prolactin-secreting adenomas – men
- Decrease in body hair
- Breast development
Tumor mass effect
- Facial pain
- Changes in your skin
- Nasal drainage that is watery
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Temperature intolerance
- Loss of body hair
- Weight loss or gain
- Increased fatigue
- Sexual disorders
- Low blood pressure
- Vision problems and sometimes vision loss
Growth Hormone secreting adenoma
- In adults acromegaly which is when the body tissues get bigger over time because of too much growth hormone.
- In children gigantism which means growing very tall quickly
- High blood pressure
- Blood sugar that is high when you are fasting
- Coarse facial features
- Skin that feels oily
- Sweating excessively
- Your chin and forehead may become thick and stick out
- Joint pain
Adrenocorticotropic hormone secreting adenoma (ACTH)
- Accumulation of fat around your upper back and midsection
- Facial roundness that is exaggerated
- On the upper part of your back there could be a characteristic hump
- Muscle weakness
- High blood pressure
- Stretch marks
- High blood sugar
- Thinning of the skin
- Depression, anxiety, or irritability
Thyroid-stimulating hormone-secreting adenomas
- Weight loss that is sudden
- Irregular or rapid heartbeat
- Irritability or nervousness
- Bowel movements that are frequent
- Feeling hot or warm
Pituitary Adenoma Causes
The cause for your pituitary gland producing a tumor, or adenoma, is not known. Although there is a small percentage of pituitary adenomas run in some families there is no hereditary factor apparent. Most of these tumors are not cancerous. If the pituitary adenoma is caused by a tumor mass effect the cause is the pituitary gland becomes enlarged and puts pressure on adjacent areas. The main cause of a pituitary adenoma is the growth of pituitary cells that is abnormal. These abnormal cells will usually group together and result in a tumor, or adenoma. This tumor will grow on your pituitary gland causing it to change how it works.
The treatment that your physician will use is to make the pituitary adenoma smaller or to remove it. Your physician may also prescribe treatment to help stop your pituitary gland from making an excessive amount of the hormone. Basically your treatment will depend on the type of pituitary adenoma you have, how severe are the symptoms you are feeling and the age of the patient. Treatment also depends on how far into your brain the pituitary adenoma has grown. Because it can put pressure on your brain and cause serious problems it is necessary to have some type of treatment. For the treatment to be successful the key is detecting the pituitary adenoma early.
Here are some of the different treatment options.
- Medications to help reduce the amount of hormones your pituitary adenoma is producing.
- Radiation therapy to help treat the adenoma by using gamma rays or x-rays to help decrease the pain, help shrink the adenoma, and help to stop the tumor cells from growing.
- Surgery to either decrease your adenoma size or remove it. If surgery is done it can be done in your sinus, skull portion, or the nose so they do not affect the adjacent areas.
Treatment may not involve just your physician but may also involve a brain surgeon, also referred to as a neurosurgeon, a neurologist, who specializes in the nervous and an endocrinologist who treats the endocrine system,
If the pituitary adenoma is pressing on your optic nerves, which is the nerve that relates visual information from your retina to your brain, surgery is recommended to help prevent vision loss. They may also opt for surgery if the pituitary adenoma is over producing certain hormones. How successful the surgery will be depends on several factors such as:
- The location
- The size
- The type
- If the adenoma has invaded any surrounding tissues.
There are two major surgical procedures that are used.
- Endoscopic transnasal transsphenoidal approach – this is when the physician can remove the adenoma through your sinuses and nose without making an incision externally. There is no visible scar and no area of your brain is affected.
- Transcranial approach (craniotomy) – using this surgical procedure the pituitary adenoma is removed through the upper part of your skull. The surgeon will make an incision in your scalp. They use this method for more complicated or large adenoma.