Pituitary tumors are the tumors that develop inside the pituitary gland and are made of cells which form this gland. Basic function of this gland is to induce the production of majority of body's hormones. There are three groups of pituitary tumors benign adenomas, invasive pituitary adenomas and carcinomas. One more classification can be on those tumors that are hormonally active and those that are not. The majority of pituitary tumors tend to produce specific hormones. This increased production of a specific hormone leads to obvious symptoms of the disease. As this gland produces prolactin, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), hormone of growth, hormones that are in charge with stimulating thyroid gland and luteinizing hormone, newly formed tumors may lead to production of each mentioned hormone.
Some health conditions such as multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 or isolated familiar acromegaly and Carney complex increase the chance of pituitary tumors.
All the symptoms are actually a combination of the increased intracranial pressure and destruction of the intracranial structures by the growing tumor. Still additional symptoms are present in case that a tumor is hormonally active. As pituitary gland is near optic chiasm people suffering from pituitary tumors almost always present symptoms of impaired vision. Increased intracranial pressure leads to vomiting and headaches. Even seizures may occur. If the tumor is rather large the headaches are more intensive. A woman may experience certain changes in menstrual periods while men can end up losing facial hair and their breasts can become enlarged. Impotency is a common sign. Children tend to grow much slower then their peers.
If tumor produces a hormone the signs and symptoms are apart from headaches and vision impairments connected to the function of the very hormone.
In case of excessive production of prolactin a woman loses menstrual cycles. She has problems with conceiving. What can also happen is that a woman who is not pregnant or breast feeding starts excreting milk. Men are impotent. Both genders show no interest in sexual intercourse.
In case of excessive production of ACTH one gains weight. The additional fat accumulates on the specific places such as face, neck and trunk while extremities stay slim. The skin becomes thinner than usual and one is more susceptible to stretch marks which are of intensive purple color and present mainly on the breasts and abdomen. A person is prone to bruising and increased growth of hair especially on the face, back or arms. Osteoporosis as well as depression may occur.
In case of increased levels of growth hormone one develops acromegaly, a condition that features with extremely long extremities and whole body. People suffering from acromegalia are generally very high.
Increased level of hormone that stimulates thyroid gland presents with arrhythmia, 'shaky' hands, and increased metabolism with loss of weight and over sweating.