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A pituitary adenoma is a benign (noncancerous) tumor that develops in the pituitary gland, which is situated behind the nasal passages at the base of the brain. The exact causes of pituitary adenomas are still unclear, although some researchers believe that a small percentage of cases may be genetic.

Generally speaking, most tumors develop as a result of uncontrolled cellular growth caused by changes in cellular DNA. These changes may be spurred by genetics, environmental influences, certain behaviors (such as tobacco use) and other factors that are not yet fully understood. Still, pituitary adenomas have not yet been conclusively linked to any risk factors, and there is currently no way to prevent these tumors from occurring.

Pituitary adenoma risk factors

While there is still plenty of mystery surrounding the exact causes of pituitary adenomas, researchers have found that certain inherited conditions are associated with pituitary adenoma growth. These disorders include multiple endocrine neoplasia (type 1 and type 4), McCune Albright syndrome and Carney complex. If you have a personal or family history of one of these conditions, consider speaking with your physician about your risk level and the early symptoms of pituitary adenomas.

Many pituitary adenomas do not cause noticeable symptoms. However, those that are classified as “functioning” – or hormone-producing – can trigger a wide variety of symptoms. Functioning tumors may produce too much of a single hormone, causing symptoms that range from rapid weight gain and reduced sex drive to osteoporosis and anxiety. Nonfunctioning adenomas can also cause symptoms if they press against nearby structures.

A full range of pituitary adenoma treatment options is available at Moffitt Cancer Center. The experts in our Endocrine Program specialize in treating benign conditions like adenomas in addition to cancers of the endocrine system. To consult with a Moffitt physician about your treatment options, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online to request an appointment.