Pituitary tumors are usually small, often unnoticeable, and more common than one might realize. In fact, studies indicate that 20% of the population may develop a tumor on the pituitary gland throughout the course of their lifetime.
So what makes a person more susceptible to developing a pituitary tumor? Let’s examine at the risk factors involved for one to develop.
How Can You Know if You’re at Risk?
Based on the latest research, experts have found very few links between certain risk factors and the development of a pituitary tumor. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any, it’s just that the number of known factors is small. The two main factors are:
Family history can play a role in whether a person develops a pituitary tumor. It’s rare, but certain families do pass along the genetic makeup that leads to growth only on the pituitary gland.
For some people, the hereditary factor that signals the formation of pituitary tumors also causes additional tumors to develop. For others, tumors only grow on their pituitary gland. Little is still known about this genetic syndrome that leads to pituitary-only tumors, as it’s more common for multiple tumors to appear in cases of family history.
If someone is genetically positioned to develop pituitary tumors, they are also likely to develop tumors in other places within the body. The patient usually experiences genetic changes or mutations that lead to such syndromes, including:
Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia, Type 1
Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia, Type 1 (MEN1) leads patients to form tumors on the pituitary gland, parathyroid gland, and the pancreas. The condition is hereditary, and there is a 50/50 chance of the mutation being passed to the children of the carrier.
Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia, Type 4
Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia, Type 4 (MEN4) is rarer than MEN1 and causes tumors on the pituitary gland and possible tumors on the adrenal glands, kidneys, and reproductive organs. Also hereditary, the genetic changes of MEN4 take place on the CDKN1B gene.
McCune-Albright Syndrome is a development that takes place in a person before birth. In addition to pituitary tumors, symptoms of this syndrome include brown patchy skin, bone issues, and hormonal complications.
Carney Complex is a very uncommon condition that causes a high likelihood of tumor developments all over the body, including on the pituitary glands. Carney Complex can also lead to problems with the heart, skin, and adrenal glands.
If you think you’re at risk for a pituitary tumor, or you believe you have developed one, schedule an appointment with us today. Our neurosurgeons can run accurate tests and provide the right diagnosis and treatment for you. Call us today: 478-743-7092.
Stay tuned for the conclusion of our Pituitary Tumor series:
- Part 1: Understanding Pituitary Tumors
- Part 2: Risk Factors that Can Lead to Pituitary Gland Tumors
- Part 3: How to Detect, Diagnose, and Treat Pituitary Gland Tumors