How is pituitary tumor treated?

The treatment options for a pituitary tumor depend on several factors, including the size and location of the tumor. Surgery is often recommended if a tumor is creating pressure on the optic nerve and disrupting a person's vision. The majority of the time, surgery to remove this kind of growth can be done through the nose. However, some pituitary tumors cannot be removed this way and require an entry through the skull. Radiation therapy is usually used to shrink tumors in conjunction with surgery or in place of surgery if an operation is not possible. Certain medications can also be used to shrink tumors. In certain instances, a physician will take a "watch and wait" kind of approach. This treatment option is used particularly if a person is elderly or in poor health, or when a tumor is not causing any symptoms.

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine

Generally, the treatment for pituitary tumor depends on the type of tumor, the size of the tumor, whether the tumor has invaded or pressed on surrounding structures such as the brain and visual pathways, and the individual's age and overall health. Three types of treatment are used: surgical removal of the tumor; radiation therapy, in which high-dose X-rays are used to kill tumor cells; and drug therapy to shrink or destroy the tumor. Medications are also sometimes used to block the tumor from overproducing hormones. For some people, removing the tumor will also stop the pituitary's ability to produce a specific hormone. These individuals will have to take synthetic hormones to replace the ones their pituitary gland no longer produces.

This answer is based on source information from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

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