Pituitary Tumor Surgery

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The pituitary tumor gland is a small, pea-sized organ in the brain behind the back of the nose. The pituitary gland produces hormones that regulate many other glands in the body. Most pituitary tumors are benign, or noncancerous. In addition, because many pituitary tumors do not cause symptoms or affect the patient's health, they either remain undiagnosed or are found incidentally during brain imaging for some other condition. However, because the pituitary gland is located at the base of the skull near the optic nerves, it can cause vision problems or other pituitary tumor symptoms. Pituitary tumor treatment may then be needed.

The particular type of pituitary tumor treatment recommended depends on the extent of the condition as well as the patient's age, overall health, tolerance for medications, and personal preferences. Treatment options include:

  • Surgery: removal of the tumor may be necessary if it causes severe symptoms. Minimally invasive surgery involving removal of the tumor through the nose and sinuses is usually possible. However, some tumors may require removal through an incision in the skull.
  • External beam therapy: this type of radiation therapy sends high levels of radiation directly to the cancer cells or order to kill or shrink tumors.
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery: this innovative treatment directs a single high dose of radiation into the cancerous tissue with very narrow beams of radiation with results that are similar to surgery.
  • Medications: certain medications may be used to shrink certain tumors while others are used to suppress the tumor's hormone-producing function.

The Pituitary/Neuroendocrine Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital offers comprehensive pituitary tumor treatment for patients will all types of pituitary tumors.

Brigham and Women's Hospital: comprehensive pituitary tumor treatment

The Pituitary/Neuroendocrine Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital is a multi-disciplinary clinic in Boston that brings together specialists in neurosurgery and neuroendocrinology who work together to evaluate and treat patients with pituitary tumors and other pituitary abnormalities. An individualized treatment plan is developed to provide the most effective pituitary tumor treatment for each patient. The Pituitary/Neuroendocrine program is part of our Neuroendocrinology Division, which has been providing new approaches to treating patients with pituitary tumors and neuroendocrine complications of brain cancer treatment. New medical therapies available at the center offer alternatives to surgery or radiation and help preserve pituitary function.

For patients requiring surgery as part of pituitary tumor treatment, our expert Boston neurosurgeons in the Department of Neurosurgery provide state-of-the-art treatment and care via many innovative techniques to improve outcomes for our patients. Our neurosurgery specialists also provide expert skull base surgery to treat a wide variety of cranial disorders.

Learn more about Pituitary Tumor Surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital.

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