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Pituitary Tumors in Children


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Pituitary Tumors in Children


What is the pituitary gland?


The pituitary gland is a peanut-shaped gland in the brain, behind and between the eyes. The pituitary is considered the ?master control gland? of hormone production because it regulates the activity of most other glands in the body.


The pituitary gland secretes a number of hormones that impact metabolism, blood pressure, sexuality, reproduction, and other important body functions. The pituitary gland also produces growth hormone that affects height and prolactin for milk production..


What are pituitary tumors?


In rare cases, children may develop tumors on the pituitary gland. Such tumors are usually benign (non-cancerous) and do not spread to other parts of the body.


But, because the pituitary gland is very important in helping to regulate the hormones of the body, even a small disruption can have serious effects on mood, on the ability to focus and concentrate, as well as on growth and overall maturation.


What are the symptoms of pituitary tumors?


In general, the symptoms of pituitary tumors are related to problems in production of a specific hormone or group of hormones. The symptoms vary depending on the size and location of the tumor and whether the tumor presses on other organs or affects the secretion of hormones. For instance, pituitary tumors may press on the optic nerve, causing problems with vision.


The symptoms of a pituitary tumor can range from mild fatigue to more severe symptoms, such as headaches, vomiting, or dizziness. Older children or adolescents with pituitary tumors may have problems with normal growth and development.


Sometimes pituitary tumors can cause the body to make too much hormone and other times too little. For example, tumors that make too much corticotrophin (ACTH) may cause a child to be overweight and lead to a condition called Cushing’s syndrome. Other tumors can slow sexual development and stunt growth. Depending on which hormones are affected, symptoms can vary.


How are pituitary tumors treated?


Doctors can successfully treat most pituitary tumors with microsurgery, radiation therapy, surgery, drugs, or a combination of these treatments.


Surgery is the treatment of choice for tumors that grow rapidly and threaten vision. The treatment plan for other pituitary tumors varies according to the type and size of the tumor.

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