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Pituitary Adenoma

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Aug 31, 2022.

What is a pituitary adenoma?

A pituitary adenoma is a benign (not cancer) tumor found in your pituitary. The pituitary is a small gland in your brain that makes hormones to control other organs and tissues in your body. A pituitary adenoma can put pressure on nearby nerves and brain tissue. A pituitary adenoma can also release high levels of hormones that affect how other organs and tissues work.

What are the signs and symptoms of a pituitary adenoma?

Your signs and symptoms will depend on the size of the tumor and the hormones released. The following are the most common signs and symptoms of a pituitary adenoma:

  • Headaches
  • Changes in your vision
  • Tender or enlarged breasts
  • Difficulty getting pregnant

How is a pituitary adenoma diagnosed?

  • Blood tests are done to measure hormone levels and get information about your overall health.
  • A 24 hour urine test is done to check the amount of hormone in your urine. You will need to collect all your urine for 1 day. Healthcare providers will give you a container to hold your urine and keep it cold.
  • A CT or MRI will show the size and location of the pituitary adenoma. You may be given contrast dye to help the tumor show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell the healthcare provider if you have any metal in or on your body.

How is a pituitary adenoma treated?

  • Medicines decrease hormone levels when they are too high.
  • Surgery is done to remove or decrease the size of the pituitary adenoma.
  • Radiation therapy or radiosurgery uses high energy x-ray beams to kill tumor cells and decrease the size of the tumor.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You feel fatigued, anxious, or you have sudden mood changes.
  • You have an increased amount of facial hair.
  • You have changes in the shape of your face.
  • Your period stops or becomes irregular.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?

  • You are dizzy or feel confused.
  • You have a severe headache and a stiff, painful neck.
  • You have sudden weight gain or weight loss.
  • Your heart rate is faster and stronger than normal for you.
  • You have sudden vision changes or cannot move your eyes from side to side.

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 healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. 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.

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