Pituitary tumors

The pituitary gland is located in a bony indentation at the base of the brain just behind the eyes. The gland secretes hormones into the bloodstream that stimulate the thyroid to control many important bodily functions.

About seven percent of all brain tumors develop in the pituitary gland, amounting to about 1,300 diagnoses in the U.S. each year. Very few are fatal. But by overproducing hormones or blocking normal hormone production, pituitary tumors can create other problems, such as headaches, blurred vision, and—rarely—excessive urination and thirst. Often, however, they produce no symptoms.

Pituitary tumors: learn more

Team-based treatment at UCHealth

At UCHealth locations across Colorado, a caring team of doctors and support professionals from many fields work together to develop the best plan of care for you, and they stay with you from your initial appointment through treatment and aftercare.

You receive doctor-managed care that emphasizes wellness and healing for you as a whole person—our complementary and integrative medicine specialists incorporate options such as massage therapy, acupuncture, and nutrition and exercise consultation into your treatment. Your expert medical team members may include:

  • Endocrinologists
  • Neuroradiologists
  • Neurosurgeons
  • Radiation oncologists

Advanced treatment technologies

When you choose UCHealth, you gain access to advanced endoscopic technology for pituitary surgery, as well as stereotactic radiosurgery to treat recurring tumors or to help those for whom traditional surgery is not an option.

Detection and staging tests for pituitary tumors

Once a cancer has been diagnosed, our specialists need to know where it may have spread. This is the “stage” of the cancer. The lower the number, the less it has spread. Knowing the stage allows your medical team to determine the best possible treatment plan for you.

Any combination of these tests and procedures may be used to find and classify (stage) pituitary tumors:

  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging). Uses a magnetic field instead of X-rays to create detailed images of body structures and show the differences between normal and diseased tissues.
  • Blood test. Analyzes a sample of blood to evaluate hormone levels.

Treatments and therapies for pituitary tumors

Your multidisciplinary care team will work with you to develop a customized treatment plan based on the nature of your pituitary tumor and your personal preferences. Among the possible treatments:

  • Medication. Uses oral medication or injections to raise or lower hormone levels based on your pituitary tumor, the hormone imbalances it’s causing, and your specific needs
  • Surgery. Uses procedures performed by a specialized neurosurgeon when medication is not available or can’t be tolerated for treatment of a specific pituitary condition
  • Stereotactic radiation therapy (stereotactic radiosurgery). Uses an external radiation procedure to precisely target and shrink pituitary tumors that can’t be completely removed by surgery; reduces radiation exposure to nearby brain tissue

National Cancer Institute (NCI). Pituitary Tumors Treatment (https://www.cancer.gov/types/pituitary/patient/pituitary-treatment-pdq)

MedlinePlus: National Library of Medicine. Pituitary Tumors (https://medlineplus.gov/pituitarytumors.html)

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). Pituitary Tumors (https://www.ninds.nih.gov/health-information/disorders/pituitary-tumors)