Pituitary tumor is an abnormal cellular growth in the pituitary gland located in the brain. Pituitary gland releases hormones that act directly on the body tissues and also regulates the production of hormones from other glands such as thyroid and adrenal gland. Thus pituitary tumors lead to overproduction of one or more hormones causing conditions such as hyperthyroidism, gigantism, Cushing’s syndrome and abnormal discharge from the nipples of the breasts. As they grow they may put pressure on the optic nerve affecting vision. Their diagnosis is thus made on the basis of endocrine function test for cortisol, follicle stimulating hormone, insulin growth factor-1, luteinizing hormone, serum prolactin, and testosterone and thyroid hormone levels. The diagnosis is further confirmed by MRI of the head.
Most of these tumors are non-cancerous and do not spread to other areas of the body. The treatment involves radiation, medications and surgery as monotherapy or combination therapy. The surgery is essential when the tumor is pressing the optic nerve and may cause blindness. Most of these tumors are removed through nose and sinus without external incision using endoscopic transnasal transsphenoidal approach. However, in case the tumor is big it is removed through the incision in the skull (transcranial approach).