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Pituitary Tumor Symptoms
by Stephen B. Tatter, M.D., Ph.D.

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The following symptoms may be related to pituitary tumors (adenoma) and the diseases they cause (e.g. acromegaly, Cushing's disease, hyperprolactinemia). Pituitary tumors can cause any one or more than one of the symptoms. If you think you might have a pituitary tumor you should consult your physician.

Prolactinoma (and nonfunctioning pituitary adenoma):

amenorrhea (absence of menses or menstrual periods)
oligomenorrhea (irregular/sparse menstruation)
decreased libido (interest in sex)
galactorrhea (breast milk production/leakage/nipple discharge)
osteoporosis (brittle bones --actually calcium deficient)/bone fractures/breakage
impotence vaginal dryness (painful intercourse) visual loss

Acromegaly (Growth hormone secreting adenoma):

sleep apnea
hand, foot, face, or tongue growth or enlargement, swelling (soft tissue enlargement)
coarsening of facial features
change in ring or shoe size
spreading teeth, bite difficulties (overbite/underbite)
Bell's palsy (facial paralysis on one side)
carpal tunnel syndrome
joint and bone aches, pains and tenderness (including foot and tooth pain)
excessive perspiration (sweating)
oily skin

Cushing's Disease (ACTH secreting adenoma):

fat build-up in the face (round or moon face), back (characteristically the upper back causing a so-called hump), and chest, while the arms and legs to become relatively thin
hyperglycemia/diabetes (too much sugar in the blood)
weak and fragile muscles and bones
flushed (red) face
thin skin
increased bruising or bruisability
skin ulcers
hypertension (high blood pressure)
weight gain
skin striae (lines/wrinkles/stretch marks)
decreased fertility in men
mood swings
excess hair growth
osteoporosis rib and vertebral compression fractures

Thyrotropin (TSH) secreting adenomas:

weight loss
increased appetite
heart palpitations or irregular heartbeat (superventricular tachycardia, atrial fibrillation)
tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
heat intolerance and increased sweating
frequent bowel movements
fatigue and muscle weakness
exertional intolerance and shortness of breath
oligomehnorrhea (decreased menstrual flow)
nervousness and irritability
other mental disturbances
sleep disturbances (including insomnia)
changes in vision, photophobia, eye irritation, diplopia or exophthalmos
lower extremity edema (swelling)
sudden paralysis
impaired fertility

All pituitary tumors and craniopharyngiomas:

decreased libido (interest / desire in sex)
menstrual disorders
cold intolerance
excessive perspiration (sweating)
decreased appetite
vision impairment, blurriness, blindness (particularly poor peripheral vision)
excessive thirst and frequent urination
growth failure
delayed or premature puberty
dry skin
low or high blood pressure
hypernatremia (high sodium in the blood)
frequent urination (diabetes insipidus)

There are, of course, other causes of each of these symptoms, but if one doesn't think of pituitary tumors then the diagnosis can't be made! So remember to consult your doctor regarding these symptoms. He or she may want to refer you to an endocrinologist or a neuroendocrinologist.

Please make additions to this list via the MGH Neuroendocrine Center Guestbook.

This listing is inspired by Mr. Robert Knutzen, President and Founder of the PTNA

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Disclaimer About Medical Information: The information and reference materials contained herein is intended solely for the information of the reader. It should not be used for treatment purposes, but rather for discussion with the patient's own physician. All visitors to this and associated sites from the Neurosurgical Service at MGH agree to read and abide by the the complete terms of legal agreement found at the Neurosurgery "disclaimer & legal agreement." See also: the MGH Disclaimer, the MGH Privacy Policy, and the MGH Interactive Program Disclaimer - Visitors must read the disclaimer - legal agreement. All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2007 MGH Neuroendocrin Clinical Center - e-mail C.Owen
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Physicians' Pituitary Information Service - Physicians with questions may contact Dr Biller or DR Klibanski at 617.726.3965 or 1.888.429.6863 or via e-mail
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