Pituitary tumors can vary widely in their cause, the symptoms they produce and treatments. One popular treatment option is Gamma Knife surgery for pituitary adenoma. It is important to work with an experienced doctor in the NJ area who can help manage your condition.
Understanding Your Condition
Taking the time to educate yourself about your condition is an excellent way to set your mind at ease during this process. The following information will help you better understand your pituitary tumor and the risks it poses to your overall health. Because these tumors can vary, you should work with a doctor in northern NJ with diagnoses and treatments such as Gamma Knife surgery for pituitary adenoma.
About Pituitary Tumors
The pituitary gland is a small structure located deep within the brain, near the area at the back of your nose. It consists of many different cells, each of which secretes a hormone that has effects elsewhere in the body. A pituitary tumor can be an overgrowth of any of these types of cells.
There are two types of pituitary tumors: non-secreting and secreting. Non-secreting tumors are more common; they do not secrete excess hormones and symptoms result from their growth. These tumors are typically small, found incidentally, and asymptomatic. However, they can cause symptoms in patients if they’re large enough to press on an adjacent structure. The second type is a secreting pituitary adenoma. In this case, symptoms arise from the secretion of excess hormones.
Pituitary Tumor Risks & Side Effects
Your pituitary tumor risks and side effects will depend on many factors: whether or not your tumor secretes an excess hormone, which type of hormone it secretes, the size and location of your tumor, and any other health conditions you may have. While your personal doctor will be able to discuss pituitary tumor risks and side effects based on your specific circumstances, having a basic understanding can help you play a more active role in that conversation.
Generally speaking, pituitary tumor risks include:
- Future growth of the tumor
- Secretion of excess hormones, with potential physiologic effects
- Impingement and damage to adjacent structures
The above pituitary tumor risks are what lead to the actual side effects. Again, these will depend on the size and location of your pituitary tumor and whether it is secreting hormones. Pituitary tumor side effects related to the tumor physically pressing on adjacent structures include:
- Changes in vision
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fatigue and lethargy
- Altered sense of smell
Other side effects can occur as a result of excess hormones. Each type of cell in the pituitary gland secretes a specific hormone, so these side effects depend on the characteristics of your particular pituitary tumor. Pituitary tumor side effects can include:
- Excess cortisone, which can cause acne, “moon” face, upper body obesity, excess hair growth in women and bone pain
- Excess growth hormone, which can cause excessive growth of the hands, feet and face, as well as headaches and joint pain
- Effects on the thyroid gland, causing headaches, flushing, heat intolerance, fatigue and weight loss despite increased appetite
- Sexual side effects and nipple discharge
Treating Pituitary Tumors
Not all pituitary tumors will require treatment. However, because they have the potential to grow and can be variable, it is important to seek out a specialist in the tri-state area who can develop an appropriate treatment plan based on your condition. Your personal treatment plan may include one of the treatments below or even a combination approach.
Careful Monitoring – If your pituitary tumor is very small and asymptomatic, your doctor may not recommend treatment right away. Some patients will never require treatment at all. However, it will be important to attend all scheduled follow-up visits with your doctor so they can detect any changes in your pituitary tumor as soon as possible.
Medications – Your doctor may prescribe medications to help with symptoms related to excess hormones. Some patients can manage symptoms this way without the need for further treatment. Your doctor may also prescribe medications to increase your comfort until your treatment date.
Surgery – If your pituitary tumor is very large and/or easily accessible, your doctor might recommend surgical removal of all or part of the tumor. Surgery can be used alone or followed up with Gamma Knife radiosurgery, detailed below.
Gamma Knife Radiosurgery – Gamma Knife surgery for pituitary adenoma is an advanced form of radiation therapy that can target your pituitary tumor without damaging adjacent structures. That can make it an excellent treatment option for patients who are not good surgical candidates or who prefer a minimally invasive approach.
Entrust Your Health to a Specialist
As you can now appreciate, pituitary tumors can be highly variable, and someone experienced with your condition should manage it. Take the time to find a doctor in the NJ area with knowledge and experience diagnosing and treating pituitary tumors. Learning you have a brain tumor can be stressful, and knowing your health is in the hands of a specialist can help you rest easy throughout the process.