Pituitary Tumors

What are the Pituitary Tumors?

Pituitary tumors are abnormal growths found in the pituitary gland, a small organ--about the size of a dime and located in the center of the brain--which makes hormones that affect growth and the functions of other glands in the body. Most pituitary tumors are benign, which means they are non-cancerous, grow slowly and do not spread to other parts of the body. A pituitary tumor may make the pituitary gland produce too many hormones, which can cause other problems in the body. Tumors that make hormones are called functioning tumors, while those that do not make hormones are called non-functioning tumors. Certain pituitary tumors cause Cushing's disease in which fat builds up in the face, back and chest, and the arms and legs to become very thin. Other pituitary tumors can cause acromegaly, a condition in which the hands, feet and face are larger than normal. Another type of tumor can cause breasts to make milk even though there is no pregnancy. Symptoms of pituitary tumors may include headaches, vision problems, nausea and vomiting, or any of the problems caused by the production of too many hormones such as infertility or loss of menstrual periods in women, abnormal growth, high blood pressure, heat or cold intolerance, and other skin and body changes.