How are pituitary adenomas treated?

Pituitary adenomas are usually treated with surgery, medicine, radiation or a combination of these therapies.

Surgery: Doctors can often remove the tumor with endoscopic surgery, reaching the pituitary using very small tools and a camera inserted in a small opening made through the nose and sinuses. This approach is called the transsphenoidal technique. In cases where this approach cannot be used, the doctor must open the skull to get to the pituitary and the adenoma.

Medical management: With some types of pituitary adenomas, the tumor can be treated with medication that shrinks the tumor and relieves symptoms.

Radiation: Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. A special form of radiation therapy, called stereotactic radiosurgery, uses a high dose of radiation aimed precisely at the adenoma from more than one direction to keep the tumor from growing.

In some cases, the doctor may choose to use yearly tests to check that the adenoma is not growing, while watching the patient for any symptoms. This might happen with small tumors that are not causing serious symptoms and with people who have other major medical conditions.

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