Target Pituitary

Pituitary Tumor Symptoms

by Stephen B. Tatter, M.D., Ph.D.

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.

Conditions & Symptoms

Target Pituitary

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.

Prolactinoma and nonfunctioning pituitary adenoma:

  • infertility
  • 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
  • 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)
  • gigantism
  • excessive perspiration (sweating)
  • oily skin
  • impotence

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
  • backache
  • 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
  • tremor
  • 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:

  • headache
  • 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
  • nausea
  • dry skin
  • constipation
  • fatigue
  • low or high blood pressure
  • hypernatremia (high sodium in the blood)
  • frequent urination (diabetes insipidus)

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 agreements."

Physicians' Pituitary Information Service - Physicians with questions may contact Dr. Biller or Dr. Miller at 617.726.3965 or 1.888.429.6863 or via e-mail at - :: Research Studies

The Neuroendocrine and Pituitary Tumor Clinical Center
Massachusetts General Hospital
100 Blossom Street, Cox Building Suite 140, Boston, Massachusetts 02114
Voice: 617-726-7948 & Fax: 617.726.1241
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