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Many pituitary tumors do not cause symptoms. But larger tumors may pressure the brain or other structures and produce symptoms such as headaches or vision problems.
Pituitary tumors can also cause symptoms by producing (secreting) high levels of various hormones. Doctors call such tumors “functional,” with 4 main types. Symptoms vary by the type of hormone involved, but may include:
Sensitivity to cool temperatures
Changes in menstrual periods
Increased urine production
Unintended weight loss or gain
Symptoms of adenocorticotropic tumors Adenocorticotropic tumors stimulate adrenal glands to produce the hormone cortisol and may cause Cushing’s syndrome.
Accumulation of fat around the midsection and upper back
Added roundness to the face
High blood pressure
High blood sugar
Weakening of the bones
Increased anxiety, irritability, and depression
Symptoms of tumors that secrete growth hormones Tumors that secrete growth hormones can cause symptoms that include:
Coarse facial features
Enlarged hands and feet
High blood sugar
Increased body hair
Symptoms of prolactinomas The pituitary gland secretes a hormone called prolactin that activates the production of breast milk in pregnant women. Tumors that secrete excess prolactincan cause a decrease in production of sex hormones, leading to reduced estrogen in women and lower testosterone in men.
In women, symptoms may include:
Irregular or missing periods
Milky discharge from the breast
In men, symptoms may include:
Lowered sperm count
Loss of sex drive
Development of breasts
Symptoms of tumors that secrete thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) Some pituitary tumors produce a hormone that stimulates the thyroid. The change then triggers the thyroid to produce too much of its own hormone, a condition known as hyperthyroidism. Symptoms of such tumors may include:
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.
Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.
Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.