Treatments for Pituitary Tumors

Medical Treatment

Many pituitary tumors do not require surgery. Pituitary tumors that produce a hormone known as prolactin may be treated with medicines that inhibit prolactin secretion and shrink the tumor.

Small pituitary tumors discovered on MR scans obtained to evaluate unrelated problems, such as headaches, are usually monitored but not treated unless they have shown signs of growth or of producing abnormal hormone function.

With the exception of prolactin-secreting pituitary adenomas, pituitary tumors and cysts that have affected hormone function or have enlarged enough to threaten vision are initially treated surgically.

Minimally Invasive Surgery

We are able to remove most pituitary tumors through the nose with minimally invasive techniques, using either a surgical microscope or an endoscope.

All transnasal procedures at UT Southwestern are performed by an experienced team consisting of an ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) surgeon and a neurosurgeon working together.

Radiation Therapy

Patients with pituitary tumors that cannot be completely removed, or that begin to grow back after an apparently complete removal, may benefit from treatment with radiation therapy.

Because the brain structures near the pituitary gland are important for vision and memory, radiation treatments should be focused as tightly as possible within the tumor to minimize the dose of radiation received by these nearby structures.

UT Southwestern offers the most accurate radiation delivery technology available. We have the only Gamma Knife Perfexion in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex, and whenever possible we use this device to treat recurrent or residual tumors in one day on an outpatient basis.

For larger tumors or those that contact the optic nerves, we use the CyberKnife, a robotic device that maintains accurate radiation delivery for treatments that must be delivered in divided doses, over several days or weeks. Our radiation oncologists and neurosurgeons who specialize in the treatment of pituitary tumors do radiation planning jointly.