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West J Med. 1995 April; 162(4): 340–352.
PMCID: PMC1022773

Pituitary tumors. Current concepts in diagnosis and management.


Diagnostic advances have resulted in earlier and more frequent recognition of pituitary tumors. Pituitary tumors cause problems owing to the hormones they secrete or the effects of an expanding sellar mass--hypopituitarism, visual field abnormalities, and neurologic deficits. Prolactin-secreting tumors (prolactinomas), which cause amenorrhea, galactorrhea, and hypogonadism, constitute the most common type of primary pituitary tumors, followed by growth hormone-secreting tumors, which cause acromegaly, and corticotropin-secreting tumors, which cause Cushing's syndrome. Hypersecretion of thyroid-stimulating hormone, the gonadotrophins, or alpha-subunits is unusual. Nonfunctional tumors currently represent only 10% of all clinically diagnosed pituitary adenomas, and some of these are alpha-subunit-secreting adenomas. Insights into the pathogenesis and biologic behavior of these usually benign tumors have been gained from genetic studies. We review some of the recent advances and salient features of the diagnosis and management of pituitary tumors, including biochemical and radiologic diagnosis, transsphenoidal surgery, radiation therapy, and medical therapy. Each type of lesion requires a comprehensive but individualized treatment approach, and regardless of the mode of therapy, careful follow-up is essential.

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