What are the treatment options for prolactinoma?

Marvin Bergsneider, MD
Dopamine is the chemical that shuts down prolactin release; however, there is a medication called cabergoline that acts just like dopamine. It acts on certain receptors that only respond in the pituitary gland, and it shuts down the production of prolactin in prolactinomas (prolactin-secreting tumors). When it does that, for many, many people, the pituitary tumor shrinks away. About a third of people can be cured just with this hormonal therapy. It's not chemotherapy; It's actually well tolerated. Most people don't require surgery if they have a prolactinoma. But about a third of people can't tolerate it, or it doesn't work well. Doctors still do surgery on people with prolactinomas. There are also other options, including radiation therapy, if medical therapy and surgical therapy don't work.

Treatment for prolactinoma usually begins with medication to decrease the levels of prolactin in your blood and to shrink the tumor. The most common medications for prolactinoma are dopamine agonists. These drugs produce effects similar to those of dopamine, which is the chemical that normally controls prolactin in the body. Most of the time, these medications help return prolactin levels to normal and may help shrink tumors. If medications don't work, or if the tumor is very large, surgery may be used to remove the tumor. After surgery, some people need to continue taking medications to regulate their prolactin levels. In rare cases, radiation therapy may be used to destroy prolactinoma tumors. Talk to your doctor to find a treatment that's right for you.

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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.