The pituitary is a small gland in the brain behind the back of the nose. It makes hormones that affect many glands and functions in your body.
A pituitary tumor is an abnormal growth in the pituitary gland. Most pituitary tumors are not cancer and they do not spread. They can cause the pituitary gland to make too few or too many hormones.
Pituitary tumors may cause your body to make too many hormones, which cause symptoms related to each hormone. Pituitary tumors often press against the nearby optic nerves in your eyes, causing vision problems.
Types of Pituitary Tumors:
Nonfunctional adenomas (null cell adenomas)
These tumors begin in brain cells called astrocytes. Astrocytes help keep nerve cells healthy. Astrocytomas are the most common childhood brain cancer. Types of astrocytic tumors include brain stem glioma, pineal astrocytic tumors, pilocytic astrocytoma, diffuse astrocytoma and anaplastic astrocytoma.
Prolactin-producing tumors (prolactinomas)
These are benign (non-cancerous) tumors that make too much prolactin – a hormone that can make a woman's menstrual period very irregular. Too much prolactin also can stop a woman's menstrual cycle and periods. These tumors can cause women's bodies to produce breastmilk, even when not pregnant, or nursing. Men might experience erectile dysfunction from too much prolactin or may lose interest in sex. Enlarged breasts, low sperm count, less body hair, and headaches and vision problems over time can occur.
ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) is a hormone that stimulates our adrenal glands to produce steroids called glucocorticoids. Glucocorticoids affect our metabolism. Glucocorticoids can reduce inflammation on our bodies. If the body has too much ACTH, it can cause Cushing's disease. This disease causes fat buildup in the neck, face, belly, chest, and back. The legs and arms can become thinner. High blood pressure or purple-colored stretch marks occur, and bones might weaken.
Growth hormone-producing tumors
Too much growth hormone can stimulate many bones in children's bodies to grow out of proportion. Gigantism is the name for this syndrome. Gigantism can cause increased height (over 7 feet), growing too fast, joint pain, and heavy sweating. Too much growth hormone in adults causes a growth condition called acromegaly.
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