The pituitary gland is a pea-sized, small gland located at the base of the brain below the hypothalamus, often referred to as the master gland, the pituitary gland plays a significant role in regulating the body’s endocrine system by producing and releasing various hormones. However, tumours in the pituitary gland can lead to severe hormonal imbalances. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr. Piyush Lodha, Endocrinologist, Ruby Hall Clinic, Pune said, “Understanding how pituitary tumors can disrupt hormone production and regulation is essential for timely diagnosis and effective treatment.”

Pituitary tumors are abnormal growths that develop in the pituitary gland, located at the base of the brain.(Pinterest)

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Understanding pituitary tumours

“Pituitary tumors are abnormal growths that develop in the pituitary gland, located at the base of the brain. These tumors can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous), though the majority are benign adenomas. Despite their non-cancerous nature, these tumors can have profound effects on hormone levels and overall health,” explained Dr. Piyush Lodha.

Functioning tumours:

These tumors secrete excess amounts of hormones, leading to conditions such as acromegaly, Cushing’s disease, or hyperthyroidism, depending on which hormone is overproduced.

Non-functioning Tumors:

These tumors do not produce hormones themselves but can still cause issues by pressing on the pituitary gland or nearby structures, potentially impeding normal hormone production.

Pituitary tumours can lead to hormonal imbalances:

Hyperprolactinemia:

Prolactin-secreting tumors cause excessive production of prolactin, leading to symptoms such as galactorrhea (unexpected milk production), irregular menstrual cycles in women, and reduced libido and erectile dysfunction in men.

Acromegaly:

Growth hormone-secreting tumors can cause excessive growth hormone production, resulting in abnormal growth of bones and tissues, particularly in the hands, feet, and face.

Cushing’s Disease:

Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-secreting tumors lead to overproduction of cortisol, causing weight gain, high blood pressure, diabetes, and a characteristic facial rounding known as “moon face.”

Hypopituitarism:

Large non-functioning tumors can press on the pituitary gland, leading to reduced secretion of one or more pituitary hormones. This could affect thyroid function (causing hypothyroidism), adrenal function, reproductive function, and overall growth and metabolism.

Treatment options:

Some of the treatment options include medications that can shrink the tumour or manage hormonal disruptions, Transsphenoidal surgery to remove the tumour, and radiation therapy.

“Pituitary tumors, despite their benign nature, can cause significant hormonal disruptions, affecting an individual’s quality of life. Understanding the types and effects of these tumors is crucial for early detection and effective treatment. By addressing hormonal imbalances promptly and appropriately, patients can lead healthier lives and manage the symptoms associated with pituitary tumors, added Dr Piyush Lodha.