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Articles in pituitary gland disorders: acromegaly hypopituitarism hyperprolactinaemia gigantism empty sella syndrome prolactinoma galactorrhea pituitary tumors

What is a prolactinoma?

A prolactinoma is a benign tumor (adenoma) of the pituitary gland that produces a hormone called prolactin. It is the most common type of pituitary tumor. Symptoms of prolactinoma are caused by too much prolactin in the blood hyperprolactinemia or by pressure of the tumor on surrounding tissues. Prolactin stimulates the breast to produce milk

during pregnancy. After delivery of the baby, a mother's prolactin levels fall unless she breast feeds her infant. Each time the baby nurses, prolactin levels rise to maintain milk production. Based on size, a prolactinoma can be classified as a microprolactinoma (<10 mm diameter) or macroprolactinoma (>10 mm diameter).

The bigger the tumour, the more prolactin it tends to make. Sometimes the tumour may grow as large as a bird's egg. The high level of prolactin may produce breast milk even in women who have never been pregnant. This is called galactorrhoea. The breasts may also be tender. In males, there is rarely milk production. However, prolactin seems to reduce sexual interest. This is quite a common symptom in both males and females with the disorder. Larger tumours cause effects due to their size. They may interfere with other hormones usually made by the pituitary. The main ones are those which stimulate the adrenal glands to make hydrocortisone (cortisol), and the one which stimulates the thyroid to make thyroxine. The deficiency of both of these hormones produces symptoms of tiredness and general weakness. High prolactin levels often interfere with the hormones which stimulate the ovaries and the testes to make the sex hormones. This produces infertility and poor sexual performance. Small tumours (microadenomas) do not cause pressure on surrounding structures. However, larger tumours (macroadenomas of10mm or more) can press on the optic nerves which transmit the images from the eye to the brain. This will produce a blind spot in the field of vision and may proceed to blindness if untreated.

More information on prolactinoma

What is a prolactinoma? - A prolactinoma is a benign tumor (adenoma) of the pituitary gland that produces a hormone called prolactin. It is the most common type of pituitary tumor.
What causes a prolactinoma? - The cause of prolactinoma remains unknown. Symptoms of prolactinoma are caused by too much prolactin in the blood hyperprolactinemia.
What are the symptoms of prolactinoma? - In men, the most common symptoms of prolactinoma are impotence, decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, and infertility.
How is a prolactinoma diagnosed? - A doctor will test for prolactin blood levels in women with unexplained milk secretion (galactorrhea) or irregular menses or infertility.
What're the treatments for prolactinoma? - The goal of treatment for prolactinoma is to return prolactin secretion to normal, reduce tumor size, correct any visual abnormalities, and restore normal pituitary function. 
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Pituitary gland disorders
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