Pituitary Tumors

Pituitary Tumors

The Pituitary Gland

The pituitary gland is a tiny, pea sized endocrine gland located at the base of the human brain. It is veritably called the “master gland” given its critical role in the normal functioning of the human body. The efficiency of other glands and organs in the human body, like the thyroid gland, the adrenal gland, the testicles and the ovaries is contingent on the health of your pituitary gland. The pituitary gland, based on the hormones it produces is subdivided into two parts – Anterior pituitary and Posterior pituitary. The anterior pituitary, the larger of the two, is responsible for the production of hormones like, the growth hormone (GH), the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), Luteinizing hormone (LH), the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and prolactin, while the smaller posterior lobe of the pituitary is responsible for the production of the hormones vasopressin and oxytocin.

Pituitary Tumors

Tumors are abnormal growth of tissues. They can either be harmful or benign. Tumors which affect the pituitary are mostly benign in nature, meaning they are non-cancerous and are unlikely to spread onto other parts of the body. Tumors of the pituitary are called pituitary adenomas. Although non-cancerous they can pose serious health problems owing to the parent gland’s close proximity to the brain. Most tumors are not very large when they are diagnosed but at times giant pituitary adenomas are encountered. The most common structures affected are the optic nerves (which causes impairment of vision) and the hypothalamus. However, these growths could wedge into the parts of the brain and the nerve network around, compressing them and thereby causing serious health problems.

On the basis of the size of the adenomas they are subdivided into two categories – Micro adenomas And macro adenomas. Micro adenomas are lesser than 1 cm in size and only very rarely cause damage to the rest of the pituitary tissues. However, they could be a problem if they secrete too much of a certain type of hormone. Macro adenomas exceed one centimeter in size and could herald the beginning of an array of health problems.

Cancerous tissue growths in the pituitary region are very rare. Doctors, generally have a hard time distinguishing cancerous growth in the pituitary from the non cancerous ones; they analyze the nearby organs and tissues and see if the growth has spread into any of them to make the judgment. Brain, spinal cord, meninges, etc are the most vulnerable organs from the attack of cancerous adenomas in the pituitary.

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