Pituitary Adenoma Treatment in New Jersey
ituitary adenomas are commonly occurring benign tumors of the pituitary gland. While pituitary adenomas are not cancerous, they may inhibit normal hormonal functions and cause many side effects. The physicians at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics can treat tumors with medication, surgery, or radiation therapy. Learn more about the types, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of pituitary adenoma tumors for patients throughout Northern New Jersey.
What Is a Pituitary Adenoma?
A pituitary adenoma is a common type of benign (noncancerous) tumor. It is located in the pituitary gland, which is attached to the base of the brain. Pituitary adenomas are classified by size as follows:
- Microadenomas (less than 10 millimeters in diameter)
- Macroadenomas (10 millimeters or more in diameter)
Pituitary adenomas are a relatively common type of brain tumor. Some microadenomas are so small that a patient won’t even know they have a tumor. Pituitary adenomas can happen at any age but are most commonly found in people in their 30s and 40s. They are more prevalent in women than in men.
Symptoms of Pituitary Adenomas
About half of pituitary adenoma produce excessive amounts of one or more types of hormones. This excessive hormone secretion can lead to certain conditions, including:
- Cushing’s disease, a syndrome caused by overactive adrenal glands, which can lead to high blood pressure, high blood sugar, severe fatigue, irritability, and weight gain in the upper body
- Acromegaly, excessive growth of the hands, feet, and face caused by too much growth hormone
- Hyperthyroidism, accelerated metabolism and irregular heart rate caused by overproduction of thyroid-stimulating hormone
- Hyperprolactinemia, overproduction of prolactin hormone, which can cause the body to produce breast milk in both women and men, infertility, and reduced libido
In addition to hormone secretion, pituitary adenomas can cause general symptoms such as:
- Loss of vision
- Changes to one’s sense of smell
- Changes to one’s menstrual cycle
- Unexplained changes in weight
Not all pituitary adenomas cause symptoms. Sometimes an adenoma is only discovered when a patient has an imaging test for another condition.
Diagnosing Pituitary Tumors
Doctors typically use imaging, blood work, and urine tests to diagnose pituitary tumors. Blood and urine tests can flag unusual hormone levels that may be caused by a pituitary tumor. Imaging procedures such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or a computed tomography (CT) scan can help show the size and type of the tumor. An overview of the patient’s symptoms and medical history, as well as a complete physical exam, will also help determine a diagnosis. Finally, if a patient is presenting with vision loss, the doctor might administer a visual field test.
While a pituitary adenoma is the most common type of pituitary tumor, testing may result in a diagnosis of a malignant tumor, such as:
- A pituitary carcinoma is a rare, cancerous (malignant) pituitary tumor. Pituitary carcinomas may spread to parts of the nervous system, such as the brain. They can also metastasize in other parts of the body.
- A Rathke’s cleft cyst sometimes occurs alongside a pituitary adenoma. The Rathke’s pouch is located in between the anterior and posterior glands of the pituitary gland. This space normally closes during fetal development. But occasionally there is a space remaining where a cyst can develop. The cyst can often be drained using minimally invasive surgery.
Pituitary Adenoma Treatment from CNSO
A pituitary adenoma can be treated with radiation, medication, or surgery. In some cases, a patient will receive a combination of these therapies:
Some types of pituitary adenomas can be treated with medication. Drug therapy can:
- Shrink a tumor
- Relieve symptoms
- Stop a tumor from producing excess hormone
- Replace missing hormones if a tumor is inhibiting the body’s ability to produce a certain hormone
Drug therapy may be used after surgical removal of a pituitary adenoma to help regulate hormone levels.
If a tumor can safely be surgically removed, neurosurgeons have two routes to access the tumor:
- Endoscopic surgery removes a pituitary adenoma via a small opening in the sinuses. This is a minimally invasive procedure and is the more common surgical treatment for pituitary adenomas.
- Craniotomy treats a pituitary adenoma by removing a portion of the skull. This method is used in very rare cases when a surgeon cannot safely remove the tumor endoscopically.
Radiation treatment directs high-energy X-rays at a specific location to kill or shrink tumor cells. Typically, pituitary adenomas are treated with stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), a focused therapy that aims a high dose of radiation directly at a tumor. This focused treatment minimizes radiation exposure to the rest of the brain, generally causing fewer side effects. Each individual beam isn’t powerful enough to damage brain tissue, but all the beams converge on the tumor to kill malignant cells. SRS may be recommended for tumors that are difficult to access via surgery. SRS can be completed in one treatment, though it can take several months to see results.
Radiation therapy can be an effective option for tumors that do not respond to medication or cannot be completely removed during surgery. However, radiation may cause the pituitary gland to stop working. When this happens, a patient can use hormone replacement therapy to maintain normal endocrine function.
The type of treatment recommended will depend on the size of the tumor and the symptoms it is causing.
Get Treatment at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics
If treatment is needed for a pituitary adenoma or other type of brain condition, consider the award-winning team of neurosurgeons at Centers for Neurosurgery, Spine & Orthopedics who provide each patient with compassionate care while using the most up-to-date therapies and technologies available. To learn more about treatment for pituitary adenomas and other types of brain tumors in NJ, contact CNSO at one of the six convenient office locations today.