What are Pituitary tumors and how can they be treated?

Pituitary tumors are noncancerous tumors that are formed in the pituitary glands. They are benign tumors that stay in the skull only and do not spread to the other parts of the body. India is one of the best places to get treated for pituitary tumors. The medical tourism in India has grown rapidly in the past years due to the affordable costs and exceptional doctors. There are several types of pituitary tumors and can have many effects on the human brain and body. When someone has a pituitary tumor, the primary symptoms that the patient displays are headaches and visual disturbances. Because the pituitary tumors lie just above the optical nerve, as they grow, they can damage the optic nerve and thus can also cause complete visual impairment. There are other effects of pituitary tumors as well. The pituitary tumors can cause hormonal imbalance. A patient with a pituitary tumor can experience irregular menstrual cycles, irregular body growth like large hands, and other facial features as well.

Pituitary tumors are commonly known as Pituitary adenomas. There are mainly two types of pituitary tumors. Micro and macroadenomas.

Macro Adenomas: This type of pituitary tumor is around 1 cm in size and can be easily seen in CT scans and MRIs. MacroAdenomas grow in the pituitary area. They usually tend to grow upwards. When they grow larger in size they can damage the neighborhood tissues and affect the eyesight as well.

Micro Adenomas: These are tiny tumors that are difficult to diagnose without the profile of hormones. They flow in the blood and are quite difficult to cure as well. Because of their small size, they might not damage the tissues of the brain but slowly they do tend to affect the hormones that are released. These hormones further cause changes in the body and so these tumors must be removed from the skull as well.

Pituitary tumors display symptoms that might often be ignored and thus a diagnosis might be difficult as well. There are three ways in which these tumors get diagnosed. 

To diagnose the tumor usually a physical test is taken and the history of the patient is also checked. Once that is done, with the help of the following tests a pituitary tumor can be easily diagnosed.

  • Brain Imaging: To check the location and type of pituitary tumor, often a CT scan or MRI is done. These tests help to show the exact location of the tumor and thus help to decide upon the medication or the type of surgery that needs to be performed.
  • Blood and urine test: The blood test and urine test is done to check the hormone count and release in the body. An abnormality in the hormones can be a result of the Pituitary tumor. 
  • Vision testing: The first symptom of a pituitary tumor is dimness in the eyesight. If the tumor is not diagnosed at the right time then it can also cause the patient to permanently lose their sight. This is the main reason why vision testing can be the easiest way to diagnose pituitary adenomas.

It is important that once diagnosed, the tumor must be treated as soon as possible. Pituitary tumor treatment can range from easy to complicated ones depending on the type and size of the tumor. 

There are three ways to treat pituitary tumors.

  • Through drugs: The drug therapy involves certain medication that helps to shrink the tumor thus relieving the symptoms. Certain adenomas can be treated by using dopamines and steroids. Steroids help to reduce inflammation and help to repair the damaged tissues as well. The complete medication takes about 6 months to a year to remove the tumor and cure the patient. 
  • Through Surgery: Pituitary tumors are located at the back of the skull. Most of the time, the surgery is performed from the nose to treat these tumors. In other cases, a doctor might also operate from the mouth as well. If the tumor is big and is damaging other tissues as well then a craniotomy might also be carried out to operate the tumor. There can be different types of surgeries performed to cure different types of pituitary tumors. 
  • Through Radiation: The third way to cure pituitary tumors is by using gamma rays or X-rays. These rays are passed through the part of the skull which has the tumor. They kill the tumor cells and keep the tumor from growing further.

The pituitary tumor treatment cost in India is quite nominal as compared to other countries. The complete treatment takes about 4-5 days and the patients can go back to their country after about ten days. The surgery usually does not need a follow-up, however after 6 months or so an MRI must be carried out to check whether there are any developments or not.