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Pituitary Tumor Program at UCLA Health
For details about the pituitary tumor program at UCLA Health, please visit pituitary.ucla.edu.
As the second-largest pituitary tumor program on the West Coast, we deliver expert care for pituitary adenomas and other pituitary tumors. Using a team approach, our pituitary neurosurgeons work side-by-side with expert endocrinologists to deliver personalized care.
What is a Pituitary Adenoma?
Most pituitary tumors are adenomas. This type of brain tumor is often noncancerous (benign) and slow growing. Many people live with a pituitary adenoma for years before noticing symptoms. Pituitary adenomas arise from cells in your pituitary gland, which regulate hormones that control complex processes in your body such as growth and fertility.
Our pituitary adenoma care stands apart because of our doctors’ expertise in knowing precisely when you need treatment. This approach helps you avoid unnecessary procedures while also keeping you safe from complications related to the condition.
What Causes Pituitary Adenomas?
Most pituitary adenomas develop on their own. But pituitary adenomas can also form in people with conditions affecting the glands that produce hormones (endocrine system). Such conditions are rare, though.
Pituitary Adenoma Symptoms
Pituitary adenomas cause your body to produce too many hormones, or not enough. This change can disrupt your body’s ability to complete basic functions and cause a variety of symptoms.
Symptoms may include:
- Vision problems, including blurry or double vision
- Decreased sexual drive (due to low testosterone levels) in men and infertility in women
- Enlarged hands and feet (gigantism) and other changes in the body
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Low blood pressure
- Sudden headache due to internal bleeding in the tumor (pituitary apoplexy)
Different types of brain tumors can cause similar symptoms. Some people experience symptoms similar to a brain tumor when in fact they are experiencing a central nervous system disorder, such as a stroke. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s best to visit the UCLA Neurology Clinic so you can receive an accurate diagnosis.
Diagnosing Pituitary Adenomas
Our doctors may perform one or more tests, including:
- Pituitary function tests: Using a sample of your blood, we determine how the tumor is affecting your pituitary gland function. Learn more about pituitary function testing.
- Imaging tests: The most common imaging test for pituitary tumors is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). UCLA offers the most advanced imaging capabilities available today, such as powerful 3 Tesla MRI scanners.
- Advanced tissue analysis: Our dedicated neuropathologist determines the genetic makeup of the tumor through detailed tissue analysis. This analysis helps us accurately diagnose your condition.
Learn more about diagnosis and imaging.
Pituitary Adenoma Treatments Available at the UCLA Brain Tumor Center
Using a team approach, some of the nation’s best neurosurgeons, neuro-radiation oncologists and oncologists develop personalized care plans. This approach is part of the UCLA advantage and means that you’ll receive the most appropriate treatment.
You may receive one or more types of treatment:
- Medication: We may be able to control the tumor using medication. Our active participation in research and clinical trials means you may be able to receive new medications that are not widely available.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses medications (agents) in different combinations to slow or stop tumor cells from growing. At UCLA, dedicated specialists (neuro oncologists) deliver chemotherapy treatments.
- Neurosurgery: We use pioneering surgical techniques and advanced technology to perform the safest, most effective surgical procedures. Surgeries include the endoscopic endonasal technique and minimally invasive "key-hole" craniotomy.
- Radiation therapy: Radiation oncology destroys tumors using high-energy radiation. This therapy can be especially helpful if we cannot surgically remove the tumor. We use the most technologically advanced treatments, such as stereotactic radiosurgery.
Drawing from our broad range of treatments, we use a team approach to determine the precise therapies you need and in what order you should receive them. Meet our team.