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Pituitary Tumors

When abnormal cells inside the pituitary gland grow out of control, they become a pituitary tumor. At Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Neuroscience Institute, our team includes physicians from different specialties who work together to diagnose and treat pituitary tumors and related conditions.

We’re highly skilled in performing novel neurosurgeries, and we see more people with pituitary tumors than most other hospitals in western Pennsylvania. We successfully treat patients, so they can feel better and get back to living a full life.

Pituitary tumor symptoms

The pituitary gland is located at the base of your brain, near the optic nerve. Pituitary tumors are common, affecting approximately one in every three people. Yet many people never realize they have a pituitary tumor because these tumors don’t always cause symptoms or medical problems.

Tumors may cause a wide range of symptoms. The symptoms you experience often depend on whether (and how) the tumor affects your body’s hormone levels.

  • A functional tumor creates excess hormones. It could affect your body’s levels of growth hormone, reproductive hormones, or thyroid stimulating hormone.
  • A nonfunctional tumor doesn’t create excess hormones, but as it grows, it can put pressure on the pituitary gland or nearby nerves.

Someone with a pituitary tumor could experience one or more of these symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Vision problems
  • Unintentional weight loss or gain
  • Changes in your menstrual period (irregular or skipped periods)
  • Prominent changes to facial features
  • Large hands and feet
  • Irritability, anxiety, or depression

Pituitary tumors we treat

Our pituitary neuroendocrine care team treats a wide range of pituitary tumors, including:

  • Pituitary adenoma: Physicians characterize these benign (noncancerous) growths based on which hormone the tumor secretes, such as prolactin or growth hormone.
  • Craniopharyngioma: This rare tumor grows out of the pituitary gland and occurs more commonly in children than adults.
  • Meningioma: This benign tumor grows on the meninges, near the pituitary gland. The meninges are the protective coverings for the brain and spinal cord.

Diagnosing pituitary tumors

Because pituitary tumors may not cause any symptoms, physicians may find the tumor when they perform an imaging test for a different reason (such as a headache).

The pituitary gland is closely connected to your eyes and hormone system, so our neurosurgeons work with ophthalmologists (eye doctors) and endocrinologists (hormone doctors) to confirm a diagnosis.

We perform comprehensive testing to learn about the tumor and its effects on your body. To streamline your care, we often perform many of these tests on one day. After a thorough physical examination, your physician may recommend:

  • Ophthalmologic testing: We may use visual field testing, optical computed tomography (CT), and other eye tests to evaluate the optic nerve and surrounding areas.
  • Bloodwork and lab tests: Our endocrinologists may recommend a series of lab tests or bloodwork to determine if (and how) a tumor is affecting the pituitary gland’s function.
  • CT or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan: Advanced imaging of the brain can confirm the presence of a pituitary tumor and give physicians important details about its size and location.

Get comprehensive pituitary tumor treatment at Allegheny Health Network

If you have a pituitary tumor, AHN’s physicians work together to develop a treatment plan that’s tailored to your needs and preferences. See why so many people choose AHN for pituitary neuroendocrine care.

Before recommending treatment, your care team will consider:

  • The size and type of a pituitary tumor
  • Whether a tumor affects your body’s hormone levels
  • Which hormones are affected
  • Your symptoms

Our hospitals use the latest technologies and therapies to treat patients. Your physician may recommend one or more of these treatments:

  • Medication: Medications work in different ways to block or lower hormone levels in the body.
  • Radiation therapy: Stereotactic radiosurgery involves a nonsurgical outpatient procedure that delivers a single, focused, high dose of radiation to a tumor. Our sophisticated and precise dosing enables our surgeons to treat tumors of different shapes and sizes.
  • Surgery: Our fellowship-trained surgeons have expertise in performing open skull base surgery and endoscopic endonasal neurosurgery. In endoscopic endonasal surgery, physicians use innovative techniques to remove tumors through the nose. It is highly effective, with many patients experiencing fewer side effects and a quicker recovery. Read more about the benefits of minimally invasive neurosurgery.

Contact us

Call (412) 359-8246 or request an appointment to learn more about AHN Pituitary Center services.

AHN Pituitary Center
Allegheny General Hospital
320 East North Ave.
South Tower, Suite 208
Pittsburgh, PA 15212