Patients suffering from pituitary tumors often experience symptoms like:
- Painful headaches
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle weakness
- Unusual weight gain or weight loss
- Excessive tiredness
Several signs can point toward a pituitary tumor, but how can a patient know for sure if they have one? The only way to determine the presence of a tumor is through accurate scanning and testing procedures.
Detection and Diagnosis of Tumors
If a patient is suffering from the symptoms of a pituitary gland tumor, doctors will complete a series of diagnostic test to determine if they have developed a tumor.
The detection process can include:
A CT scan utilizes x-rays to produce detailed imaging of the brain. Doctors can rely on the results of a CT scan to determine if the pituitary gland looks abnormal or has developed a pituitary tumor.
Just as a CT scan can produce an x-ray image of your brain, an MRI provides another source of detailed imaging created by magnets and radio waves. With additional MRI imaging, doctors can have a solid understanding of what the pituitary gland currently looks like.
Blood and Urine Testing
Your blood and urine both contain certain levels of hormones. Through testing, doctors can know if hormone levels are abnormal. Levels that are too high or too low can point to the presence of a pituitary tumor.
By studying a sample of your tissue under a microscope, your doctor can see if unusual cells are present. Abnormal cells in your tissue can indicate a pituitary gland tumor.
You may think that surgery is the only way to remove a tumor from the pituitary gland, but there are several treatment options your doctor may suggest.
In some cases, surgery is the preferred course of action. When the tumor is small, it’s easier to remove through a surgical procedure.
Radiosurgery is a one-time session of radiation therapy. Even though it’s sometimes called gamma knife treatment, there is no actual incision. Instead, our doctor will send a high dose of radiation to the tumor in an effort to destroy all cancer cells and kill the tumor.
External Beam Therapy
This process involves focused radiation that’s applied directly on the cancer cells. The sessions are painless but can be a part of a weeks-long treatment plan depending on the scope of the tumor.
In many cases, a patient can simply take medicines designed to manage hormone production and shrink the tumor.
If you missed any of our articles in our 3-part series on pituitary tumors, check them out here:
- Part 1: Understanding Pituitary Tumors
- Part 2: Risk Factors that Can Lead to Pituitary Gland Tumors
- Part 3: How to Detect, Diagnose, and Treat a Pituitary Gland Tumor