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Pituitary tumor

  • Alternative Names

    Tumor - pituitary


    Pituitary tumors are usually not cancerous and therefore won't spread to other areas of the body. However, as they grow, they may place pressure on important nerves and blood vessels.

    Surgery to remove the tumor is often necessary, especially if the tumor is pressing on the optic nerves, which could cause blindness.

    Most of the time, pituitary tumors can be removed through the nose and sinuses. However, some tumors cannot be removed this way and will need to be removed through the skull (transcranial).

    Radiation therapy may be used to shrink the tumor, either in combination with surgery or for people who cannot have surgery.

    The following medications may shrink certain types of tumors:

    • Bromocriptine or cabergoline are the first-line therapy for tumors that release prolactin. These drugs decrease prolactin levels and shrink the tumor.
    • Octreotide or pegvisomant is sometimes used for tumors that release growth hormone, especially when surgery is unlikely to result in a cure.

    Support Groups

    The Pituitary Network Association -- www.pituitary.org

    Expectations (prognosis)

    If the tumor can be surgically removed, the outlook is fair to good, depending upon whether the entire tumor is removed.


    The most serious complication is blindness. This can occur if the optic nerve is seriously damaged.

    The tumor or its removal may cause permanent hormone imbalances. The affected hormones may need to be replaced.

    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if you develop any symptoms of a pituitary tumor.