Diagnosing and Treating Pituitary Adenomas
Moffitt specializes in the evaluation and treatment of patients with endocrine diseases, including cancers of the endocrine organs as well as non-cancerous tumors and diseases such as pituitary adenomas.
Though non-cancerous, pituitary adenomas worsen over time if left untreated, causing serious illness or potentially becoming life-threatening. But with a timely diagnosis and treatment plan created by Moffitt’s multispecialty team of experts, these adenomas can be removed so patients can live long, healthy and happy lives.
The Endocrine System, Hormones and Pituitary Adenomas
Endocrine and adrenal glands produce hormones in the body that impact blood pressure regulation, reproduction and growth. When these glands develop tumors, they can produce hormones that lead to hormonal imbalances. One of the most common hormonal imbalances associated with endocrine tumors is Cushing’s syndrome, which occurs from excessive production of cortisol. Cushing's syndrome can be caused by various types of endocrine tumors, including pituitary adenomas, adrenal tumors, and ectopic adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-producing tumors.
When the excess cortisol is caused by pituitary adenomas (benign tumors of the pituitary gland), it leads to Cushing’s disease, a specific type of Cushing’s syndrome. While rare, Cushing's disease is the most common endogenous (originating inside the body) form of Cushing’s syndrome, accounting for 80% of Cushing's syndrome cases.
Left untreated, pituitary adenomas and Cushing’s disease will progress over time. Symptoms include weight gain in the upper body and face, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, vision problems, hypertension and more.
Diagnostic & Treatment Options:
Pituitary adenomas are typically benign tumors, but they can become aggressive and invade surrounding tissues or even metastasize to other areas if not treated. To avoid these risks, healthcare providers should refer patients diagnosed with or suspected to have pituitary adenomas to Moffitt experts for an accurate diagnosis and early treatment.
Moffitt's diagnostic services for pituitary adenomas include imaging such as MRIs or CT scans and lab work, including blood and urine analysis. Patients may also undergo physical exams and medical history reviews as well as testing for diabetes insipidus, which may develop if the adenomas produce hormones. Another important diagnostic tool is catheter-based venous blood sampling called inferior petrosal sinus sampling (IPSS), an invasive procedure that samples and measures ACTH levels from the pituitary gland.
Treatment for patients with asymptomatic (nonfunctioning) adenomas and symptomatic (functioning) adenomas will differ.
Nonfunctioning Adenomas: Surgery is usually recommended to remove macroadenomas or large tumors. Radiation used after surgery can kill any remaining tumor cells.
Functioning Adenomas: Treatment depends on which hormones the tumor is excessively producing. Surgery may be the best option for hormonal control, but radiation and medication can effectively control symptoms.
For both types of pituitary adenomas, surgery can be performed through the skull or the nose based on the tumor's location and size.
Why Refer to Moffitt?
Healthcare providers who refer patients to Moffitt put them in the capable hands of our multidisciplinary team who include experts from the Endocrine Oncology Program and Neuro-Oncology Program to develop a personalized treatment plan for each patient.
Moffitt's extensive experience diagnosing and treating endocrine and adrenal malignancies and non-cancerous tumors such as pituitary adenomas ensures that patients receive the best possible treatment for their specific situation.
Referring patients to Moffitt is simple and streamlined, eliminating unnecessary hurdles or formalities that can prevent patients from accessing timely diagnostics and care. After referral, Moffitt works closely with referring physicians to provide detailed records, keeping you up to date on the progress of our shared patients. Our 24/7 hotline is always available for referring physicians to ask questions or request records.
If you’d like to refer a patient to Moffitt, complete our online form or contact a physician liaison for assistance. As part of our efforts to shorten referral times as much as possible, online referrals are typically responded to within 24 - 48 hours.