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Can prolactinoma be prevented?

Dr. Jack Merendino, MD
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
Prolactin is a normal pituitary hormone. Its primary role is to promote breast milk production. A prolactinoma is a tumor in the pituitary gland that produces too much prolactin, often resulting in abnormal function of the ovaries or testes. A fall in testosterone levels or irregular periods and infertility for members of both sexes are common problems with a prolactinoma. Some medications that block dopamine action may increase the risk of prolactin-secreting tumors. Theoretically, avoiding these medications might reduce the risk of prolactinoma. However, the risk with these medicines is generally low and most of them are used to treat severe depression, psychosis or other major psychiatric problems so it would not be appropriate to avoid these medications simply to lessen the risk of a prolactinoma. Sometimes a person on such a medication has symptoms such as irregular menses or breast milk production that lead a doctor to check the prolactin level. If the level is high and there are symptoms, one will have to decide whether the prolactin elevation is enough of an issue to stop the medication, but this only happens in a small percentage of cases and is not a reason to avoid using the medications when they are really necessary. 

Because doctors aren't sure what causes prolactinoma, it's not possible to prevent the condition. However, you may be able to prevent symptoms by following treatment recommended by your doctor. Treatment may involve medication, surgery, or a combination of the two.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.