Pituitary tumors originate in the pituitary gland, which is responsible for emitting several essential hormones. While many pituitary tumors are noncancerous, others may cause the brain to produce too many or too few hormones, creating an internal imbalance for the patient. Doctors perform multiple procedures to treat these tumors, including surgery. Learn more about pituitary tumor surgery and how patients throughout northern New Jersey have recovered from the condition by seeking treatment from the Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics.
What Are Pituitary Tumors?
People with pituitary tumors experience abnormal growth of the pituitary gland. Typically, pituitary tumors are noncancerous and will not spread beyond the pituitary gland and surrounding tissues to affect other body parts. Pituitary tumors are classified as either functioning or non-functioning. In functioning pituitary tumors, the brain creates an above-average amount of a hormone. Non-functioning pituitary tumors do not have this effect on the patient. However, both types may trigger symptoms if they grow large enough and put pressure on structures near the brain.
Risk Factors for Pituitary Tumors
Doctors remain undecided on what causes cell growth in the pituitary gland, leading to a tumor. However, they have identified several aspects that may increase the likelihood a person develops pituitary tumors, including:
- Genetics: Only select cases of pituitary tumors are seemingly hereditary, but scientists believe genetics plays a key role in how and why this growth occurs.
- Family history: Individuals whose family members experienced certain diseases, such as multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1, may have a higher risk of developing pituitary tumors.
- Age: People in their 30s and 40s are more likely to develop pituitary tumors than individuals in other age groups.
- Sex: Women and those assigned as females at birth are more at risk for pituitary tumors than men and people assigned males at birth.
Symptoms of Pituitary Tumors
The signs exhibited by patients with cell growth in the pituitary gland depend on the size and, if functioning, which hormones the tumor secretes. If the pituitary tumor causes pressure, an individual may experience headaches and vision issues. The following details the symptoms that come with pituitary tumors according to which hormones they most impact:
If pituitary tumors are big enough to cause hormonal deficiencies, patients may encounter:
- Weight troubles (inexplicable weight loss or gain)
- Irregularities with menstrual periods
- Sexual concerns
- Increased urination
- Nausea and vomiting
- Feeling cold and weak
Growth Hormone-Secreting Tumors
As the name suggests, these tumors accelerate growth past the standard rate. As a result, patients may experience:
- Heart issues
- High blood sugar
- Frequent sweating
- Swollen hands and feet
- Joint pain
- Hardened facial features
- Tooth misalignment
- Excessive body hair
- Accelerated growth spurt (in children and adolescents)
Adrenocorticotropic Hormone-Secreting (ACTH) Tumors
These pituitary tumors make too much of the hormone that produces cortisol, leading to Cushing syndrome. Symptoms of this disorder include:
- High blood sugar
- Bone weakness
- Stretch marks
- Thin arms and legs accompanied by muscle fatigue
- Increased fat near the upper back and midsection
- Mental health concerns (anxiety and depression)
Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone-Secreting Tumors
If pituitary tumors affect thyroid hormones, it may lead to hyperthyroidism. Signs of this issue include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Excessive sweating
- Weight loss
- Anxiety or irritability
- More bowel movements than usual
Pituitary tumors that reduce sex hormones cause the following problems in men and women:
- Women: Imbalance of menstrual cycle or lack of periods and milky discharge from the breasts
- Men: Growth of breasts, decreased sex drive, diminished sperm count, and erectile dysfunction
Pituitary Tumor Surgery
Not every person with a pituitary tumor will need treatment. However, if the tumor is causing the body to create too many hormones or pressing against the optic nerves, a doctor may recommend brain surgery to relieve symptoms. There are two primary neurosurgery approaches to pituitary tumors, including:
Endoscopic Transnasal Transsphenoidal Surgery
This technique allows the doctor to remove the tumor without a visible incision on the body, via removing the tumor through the nose. Endoscopic transsphenoidal surgery leaves no scar and does not impact other parts of the brain but may not be feasible for large tumors that have spread to surrounding tissue and nerves.
A craniotomy involves making an incision in the scalp to extract the tumor, enabling the neurosurgeon to reach large or more complex tumors.
How effective neurosurgery is for pituitary tumors depends on the tumor’s size, location, type, and how far it has progressed in the brain and body.
Patient Success Stories
As New Jersey’s most comprehensive treatment center for brain, spine, and nerve conditions, Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics has been integral in administering surgery for patients suffering from pituitary tumors. Hundreds of patients have been cured of their pituitary tumors thanks to the neurosurgeons at CNSO.
Receive Award-Winning Treatment from Compassionate Providers
Individuals with symptoms of pituitary tumors trust Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics for surgery from an award-winning medical staff of neurosurgeons. Besides performing surgery, these providers educate patients on their diagnosis and guide them through treatment options. Contact the doctors today to learn more about pituitary tumor surgery at six locations across northern New Jersey, including in Bergen, Passaic, Essex, Morris, and Hudson counties.