Treatment for a pituitary tumor depends on the type of tumor, its size and how far it has grown into your brain. Your age and overall health also are factors. Because pituitary tumors can cause serious problems by putting pressure on your brain, treatment often is necessary. Early detection of pituitary tumors is key to successful treatment.
Treatment often involves a team of medical experts, including:
- A brain surgeon (neurosurgeon)
- An ear, nose and throat surgeon (otorhinolaryngologist)
- A doctor who specializes in disorders of the endocrine glands (endocrinologist)
- A doctor who specializes in interpreting medical images (radiologist)
- A doctor who specializes in radiation therapy (radiation oncologist)
- A doctor who specializes in the nervous system (neurologist)
Doctors generally use surgery, radiation therapy and medications, either alone or in combination, to treat a pituitary tumor and return hormone production to normal levels.
The most common treatment for pituitary tumors is surgery. Surgical removal of a pituitary tumor usually is necessary if the tumor is pressing on the optic nerves, which can cause loss of vision. The success of surgery depends on the tumor type, its location, its size, and whether the tumor has invaded surrounding tissues. The two main surgical techniques for treating pituitary tumors are:
- Endoscopic transnasal transsphenoidal hypophysectomy. With this approach, a doctor usually can reach and remove the tumor through your nose and sinuses without an external incision. No other part of your brain is affected, and there's no visible scar. However, very large tumors may be difficult to remove with this procedure, especially if a tumor has invaded nearby nerves or brain tissue.
- Transcranial hypophysectomy. During this procedure, the tumor is removed through the upper part of your skull by way of an incision in your scalp. It's easier to reach large or more complicated tumors using this procedure.