A pituitary tumor is a growth on the pituitary gland. Pituitary tumors do not always cause symptoms, but some may put pressure on the brain and nearby organs, and others may affect hormone balance.
The pituitary gland is a pea-size organ at the base of the brain, just above the back of the nose. It is attached to a part of the brain called the hypothalamus.
Some people refer to the pituitary gland as the master endocrine gland. This is because it makes hormones that affect the function of many body parts and acts as a control center for many other hormone-producing glands, such as the adrenal gland, thyroid gland, testes, and ovaries.
According to the
Pituitary tumors that produce hormones are known as functioning tumors, and those that do not make hormones are known as nonfunctioning tumors. Symptoms
In this article, we will examine the symptoms of pituitary tumors. We will discuss symptoms that relate to each type of tumor and the hormones the tumors could affect. We will also discuss when a person should contact a healthcare professional.
According to the American Cancer Society, about
Not having enough of a particular hormone can affect the gland or the organs it controls,
Symptoms of functioning pituitary tumors depend on the extra hormones they produce. Below are some examples of the specific hormone a tumor may affect and the resulting symptoms.
Prolactin is a hormone responsible for breast growth and breast milk production.
Prolactin-producing tumors (prolactinomas) account for about
- irregular or absent menstrual periods
- breast milk production in people who are not pregnant or nursing
- lower sex drive
- erectile dysfunction
Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)
ACTH-producing tumors (corticotroph adenomas) account for around
- weight gain in the upper body
- increased fat on the upper back and neck
- high blood pressure
- bone thinning, resulting in bones breaking easily
- muscle weakness
- pink or purple stretch marks on the abdomen or chest
- easy bruising
- hair growth on the face, arms, and upper back
- anxiety, depression, and irritability
Growth hormone controls the body’s growth and helps regulate metabolism, the process that transforms food into energy.
- swelling in the hands and feet
- gradual changes in facial features, such as the brow, jaw, and nose becoming larger and the spacing between teeth widening
- weakness or tingling in the hands and fingers
- increased sweating
- skin changes such as skin tags, oily skin, and skin thickening
- joint pain
- vision problems
Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)
The pituitary gland makes TSH to tell the thyroid how much thyroid hormone to produce. Thyroid hormones help regulate metabolism.
- weight loss
- rapid or irregular heartbeat
- irritability or nervousness
- trouble sleeping and fatigue
- muscle weakness
- increased sweating
- frequent bowel movements
Luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)
LH and FSH play essential roles in sexual development and functioning. LH- and FSH-producing tumors (gonadotroph adenomas) are
- menstrual cycle changes
- fertility problems
- pain in the ovaries
- increased testosterone levels
- enlarged testicles
However, it is
Other general symptoms of pituitary tumors may include:
- partial vision loss
- a runny nose that results from cerebrospinal fluid, which surrounds the brain and spinal cord, leaking into the nose
If a person experiences any symptoms of pituitary tumors, they should consult a healthcare professional, who can help determine the cause of the symptoms.
If a healthcare professional suspects that a person has a pituitary tumor, diagnosis may involve blood tests, urine tests, and imaging studies. Doctors can treat the pituitary tumor to stabilize the levels of hormones and ease the symptoms.
A pituitary tumor is a growth on the pituitary gland that is typically noncancerous and may or may not cause symptoms.
A nonfunctioning tumor does not produce hormones, but it may cause symptoms if it compresses the pituitary gland and prevents it from making one or more hormones.
A functioning tumor may produce hormones and cause symptoms, which may vary depending on the hormones it affects. This type of tumor may affect hormones such as prolactin, ACTH, and growth hormone.
If someone has pituitary tumor symptoms, they should contact a doctor. A doctor can treat the tumor and help relieve the symptoms it may cause.