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Pituitary gland tumors can occur without symptoms

Menstrual cycle is not smooth, frequent headaches, vision problems, and fat accumulation in certain limbs? Be careful, this could be a symptom of a pituitary gland tumor. In fact, this condition can occur without any symptoms.

The pituitary gland or commonly known as the pituitary gland, is a small-sized gland in the brain that plays a role in producing important hormones in the body. No wonder, if the pituitary gland is often dubbed the "master gland" because the hormone it produces can affect other organs and glands, such as the reproductive organs, thyroid gland, and adrenal glands. Therefore, disorders of the pituitary gland are at risk of bringing many health problems.

Causes of Pituitary Gland Tumors

Pituitary gland tumors occur when there is abnormal cell growth in the pituitary gland. The cause of pituitary gland tumors is still unknown. However, this condition is thought to be caused by genetic factors. Can be due to genetic mutations that occur on their own, or those derived from parents if there is a history of pituitary gland tumors in the family.

Most tumors in the pituitary gland are benign and do not spread to other parts of the body, but the presence of a pituitary gland tumor can cause changes in the production of hormones that regulate various bodily functions. In addition, tumors that are large (more than 1 centimeter) are also at risk of suppressing the glands and surrounding tissue.




Pituitary gland tumors

Symptoms of pituitary gland tumors

Pituitary gland tumors do not always cause symptoms. However, some patients can also feel symptoms, such as:

  • Headache
  • Visual impairment
  • Tired easily
  • Mood changes
  • Easy to get angry
  • Often feel cold
  • Infertility
  • Liquid discharge from the nipple
  • Irregular menstrual cycles or amenorrhea
  • Sexual dysfunction in men
  • Reduced sexual desire
  • Reducing milk production

 

Meanwhile, for large-sized tumors can cause a decrease in hormones, causing sexual dysfunction, chills, nausea and vomiting, irregular menstruation, and weight loss for no apparent reason. In children, the pituitary tumor can cause growth disorders, such as gigantism.

Not only that, the pituitary gland affected by the tumor and still active in producing hormones can also cause health problems. This is related to increased hormone production, such as:

Tumors that secrete Adrenocorticotropic hormone-secreting (ACTH)

Producing too much cortisol can cause Cushing's syndrome, which causes symptoms such as increased blood pressure and blood sugar levels, fat accumulation, acne, stretch marks, easy bruising, and psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression.

Tumors that secrete growth hormone

When you have a tumor, the pituitary gland can produce excess growth hormone. Thus causing a condition called acromegaly with symptoms such as enlargement of the hands and feet, joint and muscle pain, excessive sweating, heart problems, uneven teeth, and excessive growth of body hair.

Tumors that secrete prolactin

Excess hormone prolactin can cause a decrease in sexual hormone levels in men and women. In addition, excess prolactin in women can also cause discharge such as breast milk from the breast, no menstruation, or irregular menstrual periods. Whereas in men, the effects can include erectile dysfunction, breast growth, and reduced sperm count.

Tumors that secrete thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)

Excessive release of TSH hormone can stimulate the thyroid gland to produce too much thyroxine hormone. This causes weight loss, excessive sweating, irregular heartbeat, frequent bowel movements, and anxiety attacks

What increases the risk of pituitary tumors?

There are many risk factors for pituitary tumors, such as:

  • Age: disease can occur at any age, but is more common in the elderly
  • Genetic: this disease often occurs in people who have family members infected with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN 1). In MEN 1 patients, many tumors appear at different levels of the endocrine system. Now there are genetic tests to diagnose this disease.

 

The absence of risk factors does not mean you cannot get the disease. These signs are for reference only. You should consult with a specialist for more information.

Diagnosis of Pituitary Gland Tumors

Pituitary gland tumor disease is often not diagnosed from the start. This is because the symptoms caused by the condition are not typical and can be very similar to other health problems. So to ensure that, a comprehensive health check is needed. In determining the diagnosis, the doctor will ask the patient's medical history and conduct a series of physical examinations including nerve and eye examinations, plus investigations.

Supporting checks that will be carried out include:

  • MRI and CT scan

This test is used to identify the location and measure the size of the tumor.

  • Blood and urine tests

This test is done to measure hormone levels in the body.

  • Biopsy

Is an examination of tumor tissue to determine whether the tumor is malignant or not. The results of biopsy examination and other examinations will determine the next step of treatment.

 

In addition to conducting a physical examination, your doctor may refer you to an endocrinologist (endocrine specialist) for more detailed examination.

Treatment of Pituitary Gland Tumors

Generally, the treatment of pituitary gland tumors will vary depending on the type and size of the tumor, and whether the tumor is benign or malignant. Treatment of pituitary gland tumors includes removal or reduction of tumors and restoration of hormone levels to normal position, in the following ways:

  • Operation

Surgical removal of pituitary gland tumors needs to be done especially if the tumor presses on the optic nerve or produces excessively certain hormones.

  • Chemotherapy

Is a method to reduce the size of the tumor. Based on the course of the disease, chemotherapy can be done as a treatment step to cure, or as a form of palliative treatment that aims to reduce the symptoms of the disease.

  • Radiation therapy

This method is usually used in patients who cannot undergo surgery. In addition, radiation therapy is also often used if the tumor reappears after surgery.

  • Use of drugs

This method is used to reduce excess hormone production.

 

If the tumor feels not causing disturbing symptoms and if the patient is young, the doctor may recommend waiting while continuing to make regular observations. Patients with pituitary gland tumors that do not interfere, can live normally. But it must be remembered, routine consultation with a doctor is a treatment step that needs to be carried out to determine the best treatment choice.





References

References

National Cancer Institute NIH (2018). Pituitary Tumors Treatment (PDQ®)–Patient Version.


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Is a health and wellness enthusiast. In him free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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