Treatment for complex tumors at the base of the skull
Published: May 11, 2012
Updated: May 11, 2012
Pituitary tumors are tumors that are rooted behind your eyes, inside your head. Pituitary tumors tend to be benign, meaning that they grow slowly and do not spread to other organs in the body. These tumors make up 10 percent of all the tumors inside the head.
Pituitary tumors are most commonly found in people in their 30s or 40s, and are found equally in men and women.
Pituitary tumors are categorized into two main groups -- functional (hormone-secreting) and non-functional (non-secreting).
Symptoms of functional pituitary tumors come from the abnormal release of hormones from the pituitary gland and include the following:
There is specific type of functional tumor called a prolactinoma. The symptoms present differently in men and women.
Women often have unexplained lactation, menopausal symptoms and infertility. Symptoms in men in include decreased energy and sex drive, loss of muscle mass and strength, and erectile dysfunction.
Non-functional pituitary tumors do not secrete hormones and the symptoms typically present due to the size of the tumor.
Common symptoms include vision loss in the peripheral fields and headaches.
If your physician suspects you have a pituitary tumor, you will be given a blood test to measure your hormone levels.
Many times, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain is needed to view the tumor. There is a special, focused view of the pituitary that can be ordered if needed.
Pituitary tumors are commonly treated with medications or surgery.
These tumors can be initially treated with medications designed to try to shrink the tumor. If these medications fail to shrink the tumor, surgery to cut the tumor out is recommended.
Additionally, medication and chemotherapy is often used following surgery to prevent the tumor from returning or growing larger
Pituitary tumors can be removed during skull base surgery. The details of this surgery should be discussed with your surgeon. The risks and benefits of surgery will be discussed in this meeting as well.