Pituitary adenomas are benign (noncancerous) tumors that grow on the pituitary gland. Considered the master gland, the pituitary is about the size of a pea and sits at the base of the brain. It regulates the secretion of important hormones throughout the body.
Pituitary adenomas are classified according to which hormone they are secreting. If the tumor is not secreting any hormones, it’s called a nonfunctioning adenoma. For more detailed, technical information on these tumors, see our pituitary adenoma patient information sheet.
Pituitary adenomas don’t always have symptoms. When they grow large, they can press on nearby structures and cause headaches and loss of vision.
If the tumor pushes on the pituitary gland, it can cause:
If the tumor is secreting a hormone, its symptoms depend on which hormone is being secreted.
Doctors usually can diagnose pituitary adenomas through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), although larger tumors can be detected with a CT scan. Tumors can also be diagnosed by blood tests that measure hormone levels.
Some pituitary tumors can be treated with medication or radiation. If the tumor is growing, secreting hormones, or pressing on structures, it may require surgery. While a variety of surgical techniques can be used to treat pituitary adenomas, surgeons can use microscopes or endoscopes to access many of these tumors through the nose.
Recovery from the treatment usually is excellent. However, damage done by the tumor cannot be repaired. Hormonal deficiencies caused by the tumor cannot be reversed, so hormone supplements may be required.
To schedule an appointment with a pituitary adenoma expert at UT Southwestern Medical Center's facilities in Dallas or for more information about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.