Pituitary and Pituitary tumors

Pituitary and Pituitary tumors

The tumor may also cause enlargement of the pituitary gland, with or without disturbing hormone production. Sometimes there is overproduction of one hormone by a pituitary tumor and underproduction of another at the same time due to pressure.

Sometimes excess cerebrospinal fluid can fill the space around the pituitary gland and compress it (resulting in empty sella syndrome). The pressure may cause the pituitary to overproduce or underproduce hormones.

Too little or too much of a pituitary hormone results in a wide variety of symptoms.

Untitled design (20)
Untitled design (21)

Overproduction of pituitary hormones

  • Acromegaly or gigantism: Growth hormone
  • Cushing disease: Adrenocorticotropic hormone ( ACTH),
  • Galactorrhea (the secretion of breast milk by men or by women when not pregnant): Prolactin
  • Erectile dysfunction: Prolactin
  • Infertility (particularly in women): Prolactin

Underproduction of pituitary hormones

  • Central diabetes insipidus: Vasopressin
  • Hypopituitarism: Multiple hormones

Doctors can diagnose pituitary gland malfunction using several tests. Imaging tests, such as a computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), can show whether the pituitary has enlarged or shrunk. Such tests can usually determine whether a tumor exists in the gland.

Doctors can measure the levels of pituitary hormones, usually by a simple blood test. Doctors select which pituitary hormone levels they want to measure depending on the person’s symptoms. Sometimes, levels of pituitary hormones are not easy to interpret because the levels vary greatly during the day and according to the body’s needs. For these hormones, measuring a random blood sample does not provide useful information.

Pituitary tumors are abnormal growths that develop in your pituitary gland. Some pituitary tumors result in too many of the hormones that regulate important functions of your body. Some pituitary tumors can cause your pituitary gland to produce lower levels of hormones.

Most pituitary tumors are noncancerous (benign) growths (adenomas). Adenomas remain in your pituitary gland or surrounding tissues and don’t spread to other parts of your body.

Not all pituitary tumors cause symptoms. Pituitary tumors that make hormones (functioning) can cause a variety of signs and symptoms depending on the hormone they produce. The signs and symptoms of pituitary tumors that don’t make hormones (nonfunctioning) are related to their growth and the pressure they put on other structures.

Large pituitary tumors — those measuring about 1 centimeter (slightly less than a half-inch) or larger — are known as macroadenomas. Smaller tumors are called microadenomas. Because of the size of macroadenomas, they can put pressure on the normal pituitary gland and nearby structures.

Signs and symptoms related to tumor pressure

Signs and symptoms of pressure from a pituitary tumor may include:

  • Headache
  • Vision loss, particularly loss of peripheral vision

Symptoms related to hormone level changes


Functioning pituitary tumors cause an overproduction of hormones. Different types of functioning tumors in your pituitary gland cause specific signs and symptoms and sometimes a combination of them.


Large tumors could cause hormonal deficiencies. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Feeling cold
  • Less frequent or no menstrual periods
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Increased amount of urine
  • Unintended weight loss or gain