Pituitary Tumor

Pituitary Tumor

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Once a patient is found to have a pituitary tumor, tests must be done to find out if the tumor has spread into the brain or other parts of the body. Using an MRI or CT scans, doctors are able to tell its size and grade and whether or not it produces extra hormones. The size of a pituitary tumor is usually described as microadenoma (smaller than 1cm) or macroadenoma (larger than 1cm). The grade of the tumor is based on how far it has grown into the surrounding area of the brain.

Several different treatment options are available for people who are diagnosed with pituitary tumors. While there are several standard surgeries that are done to remove the tumor, there are also clinical trials that may be available to evaluate different treatment options for those patients diagnosed with a malignant tumor.

Surgical treatment options for pituitary tumors include:

  • Endoscopic endonasal surgery: A type of surgery in which an endoscope is inserted through an incision made at the back of the inside of the nose and then through the sphenoid bone to reach the pituitary gland. An endoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light, a lens for viewing, and a tool for removing tumor tissue. This technique has been refined and perfected by our experts at SCCNS and patients have less postoperative pain and fewer complications.
  • Gamma Knife Radiosurgery: Whether used as a primary or secondary treatment, Gamma Knife radiosurgery has the advantage of delivering a high dose of radiation in a single fraction while minimizing the risk of damage to the nearby visual nerves and normal pituitary gland. It also offers the convenience of a single treatment compared to several weeks of fractionated radiation therapy. Gamma Knife radiosurgery has been found to have a very high chance of preventing further tumor growth.
  • Craniotomy: Surgery to remove the tumor through an opening made in the skull. A craniotomy is used in the rare occasion that a pituitary tumor cannot be removed using an endoscope.

In the case of malignant tumors, even if the tumor is completely removed during surgery, patients may be given radiation therapy and/or chemotherapy to after surgery to kill any cancer cells that are left. This treatment is to reduce the risk of the cancer returning.

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