Most pituitary tumors are benign (not cancerous). However, because the pituitary gland is located at the base of the skull, pituitary tumors will often press against the optic nerves and cause vision problems.
Pituitary tumors form in the pituitary gland, which produces hormones that play a part in a variety of bodily functions. Pituitary tumors are generally grouped into three categories:
General symptoms for any type of pituitary tumor:
When a tumor damages the pituitary gland, causing it to stop making one or more hormones, one or more of the following symptoms may occur:
If the pituitary gland continues to function, the tumor may cause the gland to overproduce hormones. Symptoms will depend on which hormone is being overproduced.
Doctors and other caregivers at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) will work closely with you and your family to develop a treatment plan suited to your situation. As well as providing specialized medical care, we offer a range of supportive services, including nutritional counseling, emotional and spiritual support, financial advice, and complementary therapies, such as acupuncture and massage.
Our Pituitary Program neurosurgeons use advanced technologies to remove as much of the tumor as possible while preserving the surrounding brain tissue. These techniques include a revolutionary open-style MRI scanner that allows the neurosurgeon to see MRI images in real time during surgery. This intra-operative MRI can help the neurosurgeon remove the tumor more precisely, reducing the risk of damage to other parts of the brain. Other surgical technologies include the use of 3-D navigation systems that allow us to precisely locate deep-seated or small brain tumors; monitor speech, motor or visual functions during surgery; and observe delicate cranial nerve functions.
Surgery is typically an effective treatment for pituitary tumors. One of the following procedures may be used to remove a pituitary tumor:
Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center is devoted to helping people fight cancer by offering the most advanced treatment with compassion and care. We care for adult patients in 12 specialized centers, each devoted to a different type of cancer.
Part of our commitment to conquering cancer is developing new ways to prevent and screen for cancer, as well as developing new therapies. Milestones include:
The Center for Neuro-Oncology features a multidisciplinary team of specialists, including radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, surgeons, physicists, radiologists, interventional radiologists, endoscopists, pathologists, specialized nursing staff, dietitians, physical therapists, and social workers who use a patient-focused approach to deliver the most effective treatment for each patient. Meet our neuro-oncology team.
If you have any questions regarding the BWH Pituitary Program or to schedule an appointment, please contact:
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Attn: Caroline Repetti
60 Fenwood Road
Boston, MA 02115
Phone: (617) 525-8371
Fax: (617) 713-3050
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