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Pituitary patients missing out (UK)


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Pituitary patients missing out

[Posted: Tue 21/11/2006]


The absence of a national register of patients with pituitary conditions is preventing hundreds, perhaps even thousands of people, from the getting the treatment and medication they need, some of the country's leading endocrinologists have claimed.


The pituitary gland is a pea-sized gland located at the base of the brain. It produces hormones, which in turn control the hormone production of many other glands in the body.


There are a number of conditions caused by problems with the pituitary gland, including pituitary tumours and Cushing's disease, the symptoms of which include depression, weight gain and a round 'moon face'.


According to experts, a large number of pituitary conditions remain under-diagnosed here.


"There is no comprehensive database in Ireland of patients suffering from pituitary disease. This is a situation which requires immediate remedy. Extrapolating from European and other studies, we would estimate that there are several thousand patients with pituitary disease in this country", explained Dr Domhnall O'Halloran of Cork University Hospital.


He emphasised that in order to alleviate the significant morbidity and increased mortality associated with pituitary disease, a dedicated team approach from both primary and secondary care is required.


"Patients with pituitary disease require long-term supervision by a dedicated multidisciplinary hospital service working in collaboration with their family doctor. They will require pituitary hormone treatment, as well as management of heart risk factors, such as blood pressure and cholesterol. For their underlying pituitary conditions, they may require complex treatments including drug therapies and pituitary surgery", Dr O'Halloran said.


These treatments, he explained, must be tailored to an individual patient's requirements and supervised by a team with expertise in this area.


Also commenting on this issue, Dr Chris Thompson, a consultant endocrinologist in Beaumont Hospital, pointed out that new causes of pituitary dysfunction, such as traumatic brain injury (TBI) and the effects of radiation, have only recently been recognised.


"The pituitary unit in Beaumont Hospital is a world leader in research on pituitary dysfunction following TBI. This opens up the possibility of hormonal treatment to improve outcomes for some patients with severe head injuries", he said.


The endocrinologists made their comments to coincide with National Pituitary Awareness Day, which takes place on November 24.


"We hope that this day will heighten awareness about the conditions and encourage healthcare providers and the public to be mindful of the many patients throughout Ireland affected by pituitary problems", said Brian and Ronnie Lawler, the Irish coordinators for the UK-based Pituitary Foundation, which provides support, advice and information to pituitary patients.


Patient information leaflets are available from the foundation on a range of pituitary-related issues and conditions. For more information, call (01) 283 1060, email rep-ireland@pituitary.org.uk or log on to...



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