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Pituitary Tumor Wafer

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Any opinions or ideas --- never heard of this before???




Healthbeat: Pituitary Tumor Wafer

May 17, 2005

Jen Christensen




Pituitary Gland

The pituitary gland is a pea-sized gland located beneath the brain in an area above the nasal passages. It sits in a tiny space in the skull, called the sella turcica. The pituitary is the master gland of the body because it regulates most of the other glands in the body.


The pituitary gland also produces some of the body’s important hormones. Growth hormone is used to regulate growth during childhood. Thyroid-stimulating hormone influences the growth of the thyroid gland and production of thyroid hormone, which regulates metabolism. Adenocorticotrophic hormone controls the growth of the adrenal glands and the production of steroid hormones. Melanocyte-stimulating hormone regulates the production of melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color. Prolactin is a hormone that works in conjunction with other hormones to stimulate the growth and development of mammary glands and the production of milk for nursing mothers. In women, luteinizing hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone regulate ovulation and the menstrual cycle.


Pituitary Tumors

Most pituitary tumors are benign and are classified as adenomas. Though they don’t spread, they can grow and press on surrounding tissue. If the tumor compresses the area of the optic nerve, vision can be affected. The tumor can also suppress production of pituitary hormones, or cause overproduction of certain hormones. Tumors that cause increased production of adenocorticotrophic hormone can cause Cushing’s disease. This condition leads to weight gain in the face, back of the neck and area of the collarbone, excessive growth of body hair, weakness and fatigue, easy bruising, purple stretch marks, muscle loss, menstrual irregularities, high blood pressure, diabetes and depression. Prolactin-producing tumors can cause milk production and cessation of menstruation in non-pregnant women and impotence in men. Growth hormone-producing tumors can cause excessive growth of the face or body.


Since pituitary tumors are usually benign, incidence is not included in cancer registries. However, researchers say they are the third most common type of intracranial tumor. If the tumors don’t cause symptoms, patients may not even be aware of their presence. One study estimates pituitary tumors occur in about 16.7 percent of the population.


Treating Pituitary Tumors

Surgery is the main form of treatment for pituitary tumors. In many cases, a surgeon can access the tumor by making an incision through the nose and sinuses (a transsphenoidal approach). Sometimes it is necessary to make an incision through the skull to get at the tumor. Radiation can also be used to shrink the tumor. The treatment may be given alone or in conjunction with surgery. Some pituitary tumors can be controlled with medications that stop secretion of excess hormones.


Wafer Treatment

Research suggests as many as 20 percent of pituitary tumors come back. And sometimes these recurring tumors grow very quickly. Researchers at the University of Virginia are using another treatment to try to keep aggressive pituitary tumors from recurring. After the tumor is removed, surgeons place pieces of a GLIADEL® wafer into the site of the pituitary gland (the sella turcica). The wafer pieces contain the anticancer drug, bischloroethyl-nitrosourea (BCNU, or carmustine).


Implantation of the GLIADEL wafer serves two important purposes. First, the drug is released into the area of the tumor, hopefully killing remaining tumor cells. Second, the medication is released over time. The slow-release bathes the area with the anticancer drug for a longer period of time.


In a Phase I study involving ten patients, 60 percent experienced good control over tumor growth. Researchers say the study is too small to say if GLIADEL is really an effective treatment for pituitary tumors. Investigators hope to eventually do a larger trial to study the effectiveness of the wafer for pituitary tumors. Currently, GLIADEL is approved for treatment of certain malignant brain tumors.




For information about pituitary tumors:

American Cancer Society, http://www.cancer.org

Pituitary Network Association, http://www.pituitary.com


For information on GLIADEL® - http://www.gliadel.com



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I don't... it isn't new, just 'new and improved' so... I am skeptical.

There is more to pituitary tumors than growth. There is a whole issue about the hormone side of the story.


You first. :ph34r:

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It sound interesting but since most pituitary tumors are benign, why put an anti-cancer wafer in there? Then you have side effects of anti-cancer drugs?


I heard at Dr. F.'s support group 2 years ago that 1 our of 5 people have pituitary tumors and they don't know what causes them to act up.


Anyone know?


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When I saw the post about the "wafer" I wondered if it went well with cheese.


I would like to know more about who did the clinical trial, and was it funded by the company that makes the drug. It would be wonderful if it really did what the article says it does.


In the meantime, these are the side effects:


seizure (33.3% vs 37.5%); brain edema (22.5% vs 19.2%); healing abnormalities (15.8% vs 11.7%) including cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks (5.0% vs 0.8%); intracranial hypertension (9.0% vs 2.0%); and intracranial infection (5.0% vs 6.0%). During a randomized trial of GLIADEL® Wafer vs placebo for recurrent disease, five categories of adverse events occurred that are possibly treatment-related: post-operative seizure (19.0% vs 19.0%); healing abnormalities (14.0% vs 5.0%); intracranial hypertension (4.0% vs 6.0%); brain edema (4.0% vs 1.0%); and intracranial infection (4.0% vs 1.0%).



(It's always good to read the fine print)

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OMG! You'd think since I graduated from college that I could read the fine print and realize it's a sham! This is the best part of the boards (and I promise that I won't cash in my savings to buy magic wafers!) Kelly

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When I read it, I was thinking of vanilla wafer.....*pictures a pit tumor with whip cream*

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It is actually very high tech - but is not for Cushings tumors - only Cancer.

There is something called the blood - brain barrier that keeps Chemo drugs from affecting cancers of the brain , so that is why this was developed. It is extremely expensive and fairly new , but good news for people with brain cancer.

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