Pituitary tumors start in the pituitary gland – an important section of the brain that connects the nerves of the brain to the endocrine system, which controls hormones. The most common type of pituitary tumor is a pituitary adenoma – nearly 10,000 pituitary tumors are diagnosed each year and most of them are adenomas.
What is a pituitary adenoma?
Pituitary adenomas are benign (noncancerous) and slow-growing brain tumors. Because there is not much room for the tumor to grow in this part of the brain, pituitary adenomas can grow upward and impact the nerves above the pituitary gland, affecting vision and causing headaches. Pituitary adenomas are categorized by their size:
- Microadenomas are less than one centimeter across. They cause few symptoms, and many people may have one without knowing it. Symptoms of these tumors are caused by an imbalance in hormones.
- Macroadenomas are tumors that grow to be larger that one centimeter across. These tumors may cause hormonal imbalance, but they might also begin to put pressure on nearby nerves, causing headaches or vision problems.
What causes pituitary adenomas?
Scientists are unsure of the exact cause of pituitary tumors, but there does seem to be some link to genetic mutations that may be related to certain hereditary syndromes.
Gamma Knife® treatment for pituitary adenomas
Gamma Knife treatment for pituitary adenomas is most often recommended if the tumor has not responded to medical treatment. Gamma Knife is a good treatment for pituitary tumors, because of its precision, it spares both the pituitary gland and nearby optic nerve from excessive radiation.
How quickly does Gamma Knife treatment for pituitary adenoma take effect?
Results vary depending on the size of the tumor and health of the patient, but overproduction of hormones begins to come under control over the course of two to three years, managed by the ongoing care of your doctor.