Nasser Institute

Pituitary Adenomas


The pituitary gland is a tiny gland hanging under the brain in the center of the head. There are a variety of tumours which may arise there behaving

in different ways. There are some tumours which produces symptoms just by expanding. These tend to be larger.

There are some which present because of chemicals called hormones which they produce. These are:

1. Prolactinomas

These produce a substance called prolactin in excess. This stops menstruation and fertility in men and potency in men.

In women it is important for conditioning the breasts for breast feeding. Its correct secretion is also involved in regular menstruation.

When the concentration in the blood rises menstruation stops and the woman is not able to have babies. The standard treatment for these tumours

is a medicine called parlodel which both reduces the production of prolactin and also reduces the size of the tumours. However, not every patient

can tolerate the medicine at a dose which works. This failure of treatment is the situation where it is usual to attempt surgery. Gamma Knife

treatment has been mainly considered only when other treatments fail.



2. Acromegaly

In these an excess of growth hormone is produced making for heavy features and big clumsy hands feet and jaws.

Also there is a tendency to high blood pressure and diabetes.



3. Cushing’s Disease

In this the hormone which controls steroid secretion is produced in excess leading to a variety of serious symptoms and disturbances which can be

life threatening.

If there is no hormone production treatment consists of removing the tumour or killing it with radiation. If there is hormone excess it is also necessary

to stop that over production which may be the major problem and indeed the major danger. Stopping hormone production needs a much higher dose of radiation than stopping a tumour growing so that this group of conditions are not easy to treat.