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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.