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Pituitary Tumor Symptoms

Pituitary tumors often do not have symptoms in the early stages. When they do have symptoms, they vary from person to person. Many patients live with pituitary tumors for years before the tumors are found. Symptoms often are slow to develop and often are like those of other medical problems.

If a pituitary tumor grows too large, it may press on normal pituitary gland tissue. This may cause the pituitary gland not to work correctly and decrease levels of pituitary hormones. If the tumor presses against other parts of the body, symptoms may include headaches, double vision and loss of vision due to pressure on the optic nerves. When a pituitary tumor causes other glands to make too much hormone, symptoms depend on the gland(s) involved. Symptoms of pituitary tumors may include the following:

Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH): Too much ACTH leads to Cushing's disease. Symptoms of Cushing's disease may include:

  • Rounded "moon" face
  • Weight gain, particularly in the trunk and abdomen
  • Thinning of the skin
  • Wide purple-red stretch marks
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle weakness
  • Slowing of growth (in children)

Growth Hormone (GH): In children, too much GH causes gigantism (abnormally large growth). In adults, too much GH causes acromegaly. The symptoms of acromegaly are:

  • Hands, feet, jaw and/or forehead gradually grow larger
  • Coarse facial features, such as thickened skin and enlarged nose or lips
  • Heart problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Excessive sweating

Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH): Too much TSH may cause:

  • Weight loss
  • Nervousness
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat

Prolactin: Too much prolactin causes different symptoms in men and women.

In women:

  • Milky discharge from the nipples
  • Irregular or absent menstrual periods
  • Infertility

In men:

  • Erectile dysfunction and/or impotence
  • Infertility
  • Loss of body hair
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Rarely, increased breast growth (gynecomastia)

These symptoms do not always mean you have a pituitary tumor. However, it is important to discuss any symptoms with your doctor, since they may signal other health problems.

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