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What Is Pituitary Cancer?
- Pituitary gland cancer can be benign or malignant
- Most pituitary gland cancer tumors are benign, and not life threatening
- Pituitary cancer symptoms can be wide ranging, depending on all the factors
- There are several different tumor types associated with pituitary gland cancer
- The most common pituitary gland cancer is called an adenoma cancer
What is pituitary cancer, often called pituitary gland cancer? This medical condition is cancer of the pituitary gland, a small pea sized gland that is located just underneath your brain, behind the bridge of your nose. This gland is known as the master gland, and is responsible for many hormones and activities in the body. There are two areas to the pituitary gland, the anterior pituitary that is larger, and is located in the front, and the posterior pituitary, which is smaller and located in the back. Both of these areas control different hormones and body functions. Pituitary gland tumors in the posterior pituitary are rare. The hypothalamus is another gland, one that is located right above the pituitary gland, and it controls both portions of the pituitary gland and directs which hormones are released by it.
The hormones released depend on which portion of the pituitary gland is activated. The posterior area is responsible for the anti-diuretic hormone which helps regulate fluid balance in your body, and Oxytocin which acts to stimulate uterine contractions and breast milk secretion. The anterior portion of the pituitary gland releases many hormones, including the growth hormone, prolactin, adenocorticotropic hormone, thyroid stimulating hormone, and both luteinizing and follicle stimulating hormones to regulate the menstrual cycle, sperm production, and fertility functions. Pituitary gland cancer can affect all of these functions, depending on where the tumor is located and what part of the pituitary gland is being affected. It is possible for malignant cancers to affect the pituitary gland, but this is very rare. Most of the pituitary gland cancer tumors are benign, and not deadly. This does not mean that these tumors do not cause problems or symptoms if they are benign though.
Pituitary gland cancer tumors can come in different types. There are adenomas, teratomas, germinomas, and chorocarcinomas. Pituitary adenomas are the most common type of tumor, and these can be divided into two types, secreting and non secreting. With secreting adenomas, excessive hormones are released from the pituitary, while with non secreting adenomas the hormone releases are normal. Adenomas are normally benign, and may be controlled through medication frequently. Benign tumors include growth that is not controllable and is excessive, but unlike malignant tumors, benign growths do not spread to other areas of the body and are normally not considered life threatening.
Pituitary cancer symptoms can vary widely, depending on the type and location of the tumor. You may experience headaches that are strong. You may have problems with your vision and experience visual disturbances. Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms, and you may also notice changes due to increased hormone production. These can include infertility and a lack of menstrual cycles in women. You may experience an intolerance to heat and cold. Abnormal growth can occur, and you may start to notice changes in your body or skin. A condition known as Galactorrhea can occur as well, and this is when the breasts start to produce milk even in men when there is no pregnancy.
Pituitary cancer does not have to be deadly or dangerous, and most cases may be bothersome but they do not spread or lead to death. These tumors can be treated in a number of ways, or just monitored, depending on the tumor, the area, and your doctor. If you experience pituitary cancer symptoms, you should see your doctor immediately. Most of these tumors are benign, but in rare cases a malignant tumor can form in the pituitary gland, and these can be very serious. Only diagnostic tests and your physician can determine which type of tumor you have in association with pituitary gland cancer. If the tumor is malignant, treatment should start as soon as possible to increase your odds of beating it.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
|Cancer Types16 Feb 2009|