Member of the 1000 Post Club Victoria Posted May 31, 2003 Member of the 1000 Post Club Report Share Posted May 31, 2003 Pituitary tumors are one of the most common types of brain tumor but they are also one of the hardest to detect. Patients with pituitary tumors cope with a large variety of physical and psychological abnormalities. 9News health reporter Jennifer Ryan is here to tell us how to spot the symptoms and report them to your doctor. The pituitary gland is a bean shaped gland at the base of the brain. It acts as your "master gland". It produces hormones that affect other glands in the body and many of your bodily functions. Tumors of the pituitary vary in size and by type depending on the hormonal deficit they cause. Depending on where within the gland the tumor occurs, it can affect any one of a wide variety of hormones, making detection difficult for doctors. A 37-year-old woman just had a tumor removed from her brain. She was suffering from depression, weight gain, excess facial hair, headaches and osteoporosis-- all symptoms of Cushing's disease brought on by a tumor in her pituitary gland. She was fortunate to receive the proper diagnosis, but many pituitary tumors go undiagnosed. ?The typical patient with Cushing's Disease has seen five or six doctors with kind of vague symptoms of weight gain and feeling not themselves with sometimes some psychological depression and the diagnosis is missed because the doctors don't think about it," says Edward R. Laws, Jr., MD, FACS Prof., and Medicine & Neurological Surgery at the University of Virginia Health System. Dr. Laws --who specializes in pituitary tumor surgery--, gives talks to heighten awareness about this common, but often missed problem. He says about 20 percent of brain tumor surgeries are on pituitary tumors, yet only five thousand people a year are correctly diagnosed with Cushing's Disease. "The good news is that these tumors are almost all benign, and that if we can remove them, the pituitary gland itself often comes back to normal function, and even if it doesn't, we know, in conjunction with the endocrinologist, how to replace the hormones that a person needs to have normal health," says Dr. Laws. The pituitary gland is a master gland, controlling functions like sexual maturation, reproduction and metabolism. A tumor can interrupt a woman's menstrual cycle and fertility. For men, the most common side effects are sexual dysfunction and over secretion of growth hormone-- which causes excess body hair. Some bones in adults may suddenly start growing again. Diagnosing the problem can be done simply with an MRI and endocrine tests. And treatment is non-invasive. "Not everybody requires surgery, some of the people who have surgery also require additional medical treatment, and some require radiation therapy, so it's a very individualized type of care that involves a spectrum of physicians from different specialties," says Dr. Laws. Surgery is performed through the nostril and takes about two hours. Most patients are back to normal in three months. Doctors estimate one in four people have some kind of pituitary disorder and left undiagnosed can reduce your life span. Other side effects related to pituitary tumor are visual loss, memory loss, cognitive problems, irritability, moodiness, fluid retention, weakness, apathy, anger, agitation and anxiety. Doctors estimate one in four people have some kind of pituitary disorder and left undiagnosed can reduce your life span. How do people get pituitary abnormalities? Pituitary malfunctions can result from infections, inflammation (especially around the time of pregnancy), injuries, cancerous spread and most commonly, non-cancerous pituitary tumors, called adenomas. But again they are very hard to detect. For example, if a patient develops diabetes or high blood pressure in the absence of a family history or weight gain, it is important to appreciate that one shouldn't accept the diagnosis without a better explanation from their doctor. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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