What are pituitary tumors?
The pituitary gland is a small bean-shaped gland located at the base of your brain, somewhat behind your nose and between your ears. Despite its size, the gland influences nearly every part of your body. Its hormones help regulate important functions such as growth, blood pressure and reproduction. The pituitary body is an endocrine gland located in a
depression in the base of the skull called the sella turcica. It is comprised of secretory cells which elaborate hormones responsible for many complex body functions. There are two "lobes" of the pituitary, the anterior and posterior lobes, and each releases specific hormones into the blood vessels surrounding the gland. The blood then carries the hormones to various effector organs located at distant sites throughout the body. The hypothalamus, which maintains the body's internal environment, is situated directly above the pituitary and controls and regulates the gland's activity.
Pituitary adenomas do not secrete hormones but are likely to be larger and more invasive than tumors that do. Craniopharyngiomas are benign tumors that are extremely difficult to remove. Radiation does not stop them from spreading throughout the pituitary gland. Craniopharyngiomas account for less than 5% of all brain tumors. Pituitary tumors usually develop between the ages of 30 and 40, but half of all craniopharyngiomas occur in children, with symptoms most often appearing between the ages of five and ten.
Pituitary tumors are abnormal growths in the pituitary gland. Sometimes pituitary tumors can produce excess amounts of hormones. Other times, a tumor can restrict the pituitary gland, causing it to produce lower levels of hormones (hypopituitarism). Most pituitary tumors are noncancerous (benign), nonspreading growths (adenomas). Adenomas remain confined to the pituitary gland or surrounding tissues and don't spread to other parts of your body. Treatment for a pituitary tumor may involve surgery to remove the tumor. Medications or radiation therapy to control growth of the tumor may also be an option. Medications also may be necessary to correct excess or deficient hormone production.