Prolactinomas

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

  • A prolactinoma is a tumor (lump) in your pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is an almond-shaped organ in your brain that makes and releases hormones such as prolactin. Hormones are special chemicals that flow through your blood and control functions of your organs and tissues. Prolactin is a hormone that helps the breasts of females make milk for breast-feeding. Abnormal genes may have caused a tumor to grow in your pituitary gland. Genes are little pieces of information that tell your body what to do or make.

  • A prolactinoma may increase the level of prolactin in your body. When this happens, you may have problems getting your partner pregnant. Females may have an irregular or absent monthly period, and trouble getting pregnant. If your tumor grows very big, you may have headaches and trouble seeing. Blood tests, a computed tomography (CT) scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be done to find your tumor. You may need medicines to bring your prolactin level back to normal. You may need to have your tumor removed or made smaller through surgery or radiation therapy. Having your tumor treated may decrease your symptoms and stop damage to your brain tissues.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

  • Medicines used to treat your tumor may cause an allergic response. Your medicines may make you dizzy, throw up, and cause stomach aches or a dry mouth. It may take a week or two before these medicines decrease some of your symptoms. With surgery, you may bleed, get an infection, or damage nerves and blood vessels. After surgery, you may still have headaches, or lose feeling in some parts of your body. Radiation therapy may harm some tissues near the tumor. Your pituitary gland may decrease or stop making hormones after your treatments.

  • If your tumor is not treated, you may have problems getting an erection or getting your partner pregnant. Women may have problems with their monthly periods, and have trouble getting pregnant. Your tumor may grow and damage nearby brain tissue. You may have headaches more often and problems seeing clearly. You may also have problems thinking, remembering things, or moving parts of your body. Your tumor may break open and bleed which may cause you to pass out or die. Talk to your caregiver if you have questions about your condition, treatment, or care.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

An IV

is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

Vital signs:

Caregivers will check your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and temperature. They will also ask about your pain. These vital signs give caregivers information about your current health.

Medicines:

  • Dopamine agonists: These medicines increase your dopamine level. Increased amounts of dopamine can bring your prolactin level back to normal. Ask your caregiver for more information on these medicines.

  • Hormone replacement: Your caregiver may give you hormones after your radiation or surgery. You may have to take these hormones to correct the sudden changes in your hormone levels.

Tests:

  • Blood tests: You may need blood taken for tests. These can tell your caregivers how much prolactin you have in your body. These tests can also show how much of the other hormones you have in your body. Blood tests may also give your caregivers information about your health. The blood can be taken from a blood vessel in your hand, arm, or the bend in your elbow. You may need to have blood drawn more than once.

  • Computed tomography scan: This is also called a CT scan. A special x-ray machine with a computer takes pictures of your brain. It can show your tumor, brain tissue, and blood vessels.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging: This is also called an MRI. The MRI shows pictures of the inside of your head. This can show your caregiver any tumors or problems inside. You will need to lay still and relax during a MRI. Never enter the MRI room with an oxygen tank, watch, or any other metal objects. This can cause serious injury.

  • Pregnancy test: Prolactin normally increases during pregnancy. This test helps caregivers find out if you are pregnant. It will tell caregivers if your pregnancy is causing you to have too much prolactin.

  • Visual field test: This test will check your visual field. Your visual field tells how wide your eyes can see. A large tumor usually decreases how much you see from the corners of your eyes. Ask your caregiver for more information about this test.

Treatment options:

  • Radiation therapy or radiosurgery: These treatments use x-rays or gamma rays to treat your tumor. Radiation may stop the tumor cells from growing, and shrink the tumor. Ask your caregiver for more information about radiation therapy and radiosurgery.

  • Surgery: This is done to remove or decrease the size of your tumor. Ask your caregiver for more information on surgeries to treat your tumor.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Prolactinomas (Inpatient Care)

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