Pituitary Tumors | Miami Cancer Institute | Baptist Health South Florida
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Pituitary Tumors

Every patient’s pituitary tumor is different, consisting of individually unique genes and molecules that drive tumor growth.

Armed with knowledge and experience, Miami Cancer Institute’s oncologists, surgeons, radiologists, pharmacists, endocrinologists and otolaryngologists collaborate to design the very best treatment plan to target each patient’s pituitary tumor.

About Pituitary Tumors

The pituitary gland is a pea-sized organ located in the bottom center of the brain. Sometimes referred to as the master endocrine gland, it secretes hormones that stimulate other endocrine glands to function properly. The pituitary gland helps regulate metabolic functions, as well as growth, reproduction and blood pressure levels.

Pituitary tumors can cause either too much or too little hormone production. In most cases, these tumors do not spread and are not considered cancerous. About 10,000 people are diagnosed with pituitary gland tumors in the United States each year.

Pituitary Tumors Risk Factors

The only known risk factors for pituitary tumors are hereditary syndromes including multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) and familial isolated pituitary adenoma (FIPA). Genetic counseling and testing is available for these conditions.

Symptoms of Pituitary Tumors

Since the pituitary gland regulates many other hormone-producing organs, symptoms can vary, depending on the affected area. Sometimes pituitary tumors themselves secrete hormones, causing biochemical symptoms.

Pituitary tumors usually cause three or more of the following symptoms:

  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Growth of jaw, hands and feet
  • Breast secretion
  • Depression
  • Infertility
  • Osteoporosis
  • Joint pain
  • Excessive bruising
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Unusual weight changes, including obesity
  • Cessation of menstrual periods
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Headaches

Hormone-producing pituitary tumors can cause the following symptoms:

  • Weight gain in the upper back and gut
  • Development of a hump on the upper back
  • Unusual facial roundness
  • Unusual growth in hands and feet
  • Breast discharge in women
  • Breast growth in men
  • Loss of muscle and body hair in men
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Mood swings

Pituitary tumors can be difficult to diagnose, particularly in the early stages. Our endocrinologists and neurosurgeons have specialized training to diagnose pituitary tumors. Your care team can detect the presence of a pituitary tumor by conducting the following tests:

  • Physical exam and review of personal health and family history.
  • Laboratory tests, including blood, urine and saliva, to check for abnormal hormone levels.
  • Imaging studies, such as CT or MRI scans, to look for evidence of a tumor.
  • Vision tests, to determine if a pituitary tumor is affecting your vision.

Miami Cancer Institute’s team of highly experienced neurosurgeons, endocrinologists, neuroradiologists, pathologists, neuro-ophthalmologists and radiation oncologists collaborate to customize your care using the most advanced treatments with the least impact on your body. They also partner with the specialists in our Cancer Patient Support Center to enhance your quality of life and improve your health outcome.

Treatment for a pituitary tumor varies according to the size and location of the tumor and the specific hormones it affects. With early detection and treatment, the prognosis for recovery is generally excellent. Your personalized treatment plan may include:

  • Surgery, to remove the tumor.
  • Radiation therapy, to target pituitary tumors with high doses of radiation, minimizing damage to healthy cells.
  • Proton therapy, to deliver high doses of radiation directly within the boundaries of a tumor, sparing healthy tissues.
  • Hormone therapy, to suppress overproduction of hormones and help reduce tumor size.
  • Clinical trials that offer the chance to try new detection and treatment methods.