How Researchers Are Seeking Better Diagnoses and Treatments for Pituitary Tumors

Neurosurgeon pointing to brain scan images

Patients dealing with pituitary tumors often have questions regarding their condition, including its diagnosis and treatment options. As modern medicine continues to make strides in scientific knowledge and technology, pituitary tumor research continues to produce groundbreaking findings. Here, Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics, serving patients throughout northern New Jersey, discusses how recent medical studies have advanced the approach to diagnosing and treating pituitary tumors.

Understanding Pituitary Tumors

When a pituitary tumor is found, it can be a difficult time for a patient and their family. While only 1% of pituitary tumors are cancerous, it is still important for medical professionals to diagnose them at an early stage. These abnormal growths within the pituitary gland can be small and cause no symptoms, which is why imaging tests have been an important tool for helping physicians identify them.

Some pituitary tumors are functioning, meaning they produce hormones. These tumors can result in a wide range of signs and symptoms, including:

  • Weight gain or loss
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Increased amount of urine
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Weakness
  • Feeling cold
  • Less frequent or no menstrual periods

Nonfunctioning pituitary tumors often remain small and result in no symptoms. If they grow, they may put pressure on the optic chiasm, resulting in headaches and loss of vision.

Pituitary Tumor Research Into Diagnosis

Various studies have shown how medical teams can get a better understanding of the genetic basis of pituitary tumors. This analysis has led to improvements in genetic testing for those who may have multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) or other syndromes. It also has guided physicians in analyzing nonfunctioning tumors and developing new treatment options. Some researchers believe these findings will lead to the identification of genes and markers, enabling physicians to better determine whether a pituitary tumor is likely to spread or become cancerous.

Advances in immune research focus on the expression of immune cells. These studies help identify the changes and differences in inflammatory factors of these tumors. Continued development in pituitary tumor research has identified the immune response as a potential novel disease marker; however, it is generally dynamic during tumor development.

Treatment Options

While many pituitary tumors do not require treatment, factors such as tumor size and the age and health condition of the patient make a difference in determining the best course of action. A neurosurgeon may work with an endocrinologist, an oncologist, and a nose and sinus surgeon to determine the best approach. The following are potential treatments a patient with a pituitary tumor may receive:

Medications

There are different medications available for different types of pituitary tumors. Drugs prescribed for prolactin-secreting tumors help reduce tumor size and prolactin secretion, while those for ACTH-producing tumors control excessive production of or block the effects of cortisol.

Growth hormone-secreting medications can be prescribed if surgery was unsuccessful in preventing tumor growth. These drugs help decrease tumor size or thwart the effects of excess growth hormone.

Radiation Therapy and Immunotherapy

Radiation therapy treatments use high-energy radiation to eliminate tumors. While the effects may not be immediate, radiation therapy is a good choice if the tumor persists after surgery, or if surgery is not an option. Immunotherapy is a relatively new treatment plan that involves using one’s immune system to fight the tumor.

Surgery

There are several pituitary tumor surgery treatments. Endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery is non-invasive, allowing a surgeon to enter through the nasal passage. Minimally invasive brain surgery involves a small incision, while a craniotomy may be necessary for larger, more difficult-to-reach tumors.

Seek Pituitary Tumor Surgery in Northern New Jersey

Advancements in pituitary tumor research and technology have expanded treatment options, allowing patients to feel more comfortable throughout the process. Still, it can be challenging to determine the best course of action when an individual notices the signs and symptoms of a pituitary tumor. Those searching for accurate diagnoses and advanced treatments should turn to the expert medical staff at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics for assistance.

From diagnosing to surgical procedures and other treatments, the award-winning and compassionate surgical team at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics has years of experience and works with patients to develop comprehensive and customized treatment plans. Following a conservative approach, the neurosurgeons, rehabilitation specialists, and pain management and physical medicine physicians administer and coordinate expert care for patients.

To learn more about treatment at six locations across northern NJ, contact the team today and schedule an appointment.

Centers for Neurosurgery Spine & Orthopedics
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