Pituitary Adenoma





A pituitary adenoma is a slow-growing benign tumor that grows on the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland has control over the body’s hormonal functions, but it is regulated by the hypothalamus. It is located in the sellaturcica at the base of the brain. The pituitary gland has two areas that have different structures and funtions: the anterior pituitary and the posterior pituitary. Tumors, especially adenomas, can arise from either of these two structures.

Pituitary adenomas may be generally classified according to size. If it is less than 1 cm in size, it is considered as a pituitary microadenoma. If it is about 1 cm or more than 1 cm in size, then it is considered as a pituitary macroadenoma. A pituitary adenoma may have present different challenges especially in the diagnosis, imaging and treatment depending on its size.

Pituitary adenomas are quite common, with an estimated prevalence of about 0.1% of the general population. On this respect, the incidence of pituitary macroadenoma is twice as common as that of the microadenoma.



The reason for the growth and existence of pituitary adenomas is still unknown. It is said that these benign tumors are a result of some random mutations of the cells that are part of the pituitary gland. A small number of adenoma cases, however, are part of a genetic condition called type 1 multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN I).


Signs and Symptoms

Since these tumors originate from the pituitary gland, they often cause hormonal problems. Some pituitary adenomas lead to the excessive production and secretion of hormones, resulting in syndromes with hormonal imbalances. A bigger portion of these pituitary adenomas, though, do not secrete any functional hormones, instead they grow so big that they tend to impinge on some of the surrounding structures in the brain.

Nonfunctional pituitary adenomas are the large tumors that do not generate functional hormones, thus, the symptoms that are associated with them include changes in the vision of the affected person (loss of visual fields, double vision), pressing headaches, nausea and vomiting, easy fatigability, and other symptoms associated with insufficient pituitary hormones (hypopituitarism).

Adenomas (referred to as prolactinomas) that arise from the cells that produce the hormone prolactin are often manifested in women by the presence of irregular menstrual periods, unusual breast milk production, infertility, and/or weight changes. For the men, on the other hand, prolactinomas are manifested by reduced libido, sexual dysfunction, and changes in weight.

Other tumors, such as those that produce the hormone ACTH, usually manifest with symptoms similar to that of Cushing’s disease. While those that produce growth hormones may cause symptoms that pertain to gigantism or acromegaly. In rare cases, pituitary adenomas may lead to hyperthyroidism or pituitary gland malignancies.



Pituitary adenomas have quite a few treatment options. Among them are the following:

  • As long as the tumors are not causing incapacitating symptoms, some physicians and their clients will opt to observe the growth and/or progress of the tumor first. This is also true for those patients who have major health concerns that can be affected or aggravated by the other treatment methods for pituitary adenomas.
  • Drug Therapy. Medication may be prescribed depending on the type of pituitary tumor present. Most of the functional adenomas can be managed by addressing the symptoms presented by the corresponding hormonal imbalances.
  • Most patients consider surgery (removal of the pituitary tumor) as the primary treatment for their condition, especially if they are possible candidates for the procedure, such as those with nonfunctional pituitary macroadenomas.
  • Radiation or Radiosurgery. With these procedures, the growth of the adenoma is controlled and the hormone levels are stabilized.


Disability Tax Credits for Pituitary Adenoma

Pituitary adenomas usually affect the vision of the person affected by it, along with other things. If you have been diagnosed with this condition, or is currently being treated for it, you may be a candidate for a disability tax refund from the Canadian Revenue Agency. To know more about this and on how to go about getting a disability certificate from your physician, you can call on the HandyTax hotline to set an appointment with one of our agents.