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Cancers of the pituitary gland are rare. Only a few hundred have ever been described in medical journals. They can occur at any age, but most are found in older people. These cancers usually make hormones, just like many adenomas do. Pituitary carcinomas look like pituitary adenomas under a microscope, so doctors have trouble telling them apart. In fact, the only way to tell if a pituitary tumor is a carcinoma and not an adenoma is when the tumor spreads to another part of the body not near the pituitary gland. Most often pituitary carcinoma spreads to the brain, spinal cord, meninges the covering of the brain and spinal cord , or bone around the pituitary.


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Rarely, these cancers spread to other organs such as the liver, heart, or lungs. One of the key issues with pituitary tumors is that there's currently no way to know if a benign pituitary adenoma will become cancer and grow and spread to other parts of the body. There are several other types of benign tumors that grow in the region of the pituitary, as well as some malignant cancerous ones.

All are much less common than pituitary adenomas. Teratomas, germinomas, and choriocarcinomas are all rare tumors that usually occur in children or young adults. Rathke cleft cysts and gangliocytomas of the pituitary are rare tumors that are usually found in adults.

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Craniopharyngiomas are slow-growing tumors that start above the pituitary gland but below the brain itself. They sometimes press on the pituitary and the hypothalamus, causing hormone problems. It makes many different hormones. Some of these hormones have direct effects on the body, and others control the actions of other glands that produce hormones.

Pituitary Gland Tumor: Symptoms and Signs

The pituitary gland sits in a pocket of the skull under the middle part of the brain. It is quite small — about the size of a pea. The pituitary is controlled in two ways: by signals from the part of the brain called the hypothalamus, and by sensing levels of other hormones in the body.

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The pituitary gland can become disturbed and make too much or too little of a hormone. It can also be the site of a tumour, which can cause problems by squashing the surrounding brain tissue.


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  • Most tumours in the pituitary gland are benign and only cause problems when they change hormone levels or take up too much space. Learn more about the endocrine system and the different hormones released by the endocrine glands. Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

    Read more on Lab Tests Online website. Rare Cancers Australia is a charity whose purpose is to improve the lives and health outcomes of Australians living with a rare or less common cancer. Read more on Rare Cancers Australia website. Generally, pituitary tumours are benign and slow growing, and pituitary cancers are extremely rare.

    Read more on Better Health Channel website.

    Pituitary Disorders | MedlinePlus

    The average person knows little about the detrimental affects of thyroid disorders upon health and this can be very discouraging. Read more on myDr website. Some athletes and bodybuilders wrongly believe that taking synthetic growth hormone will help build up their muscles. Information on the thyroid gland and its function in regulating your bodys metabolism. Read more on WA Health website. Examples of sinuses include the air-filled spaces in the skull around the nose and eyes or a passage leading to an abscess collection of pus.

    It can also refer to a channel for the passage of blood or lymph fluid. The part of the brain below the thalamus that controls hormone production, water balance, body temperature and other activities in the body related to metabolism. A female sex hormone that causes the female sex characteristics to develop such as breasts and is necessary for reproduction.

    Estrogen is made mainly by the ovaries. Small amounts of estrogen are also made in the adrenal glands. It may also be produced in the lab to treat certain conditions or as a type of birth control.

    You and Your Hormones

    A female sex hormone that prepares the uterus womb for pregnancy and the breasts for lactation following childbirth. Progesterone is made mainly by the ovaries and the placenta. It may also be produced in the lab to treat menstrual problems, infertility, symptoms of menopause and other conditions or as a type of birth control. A male sex hormone that causes male sex characteristics to develop such as deep voice and facial hair and stimulates the development of the male reproductive system and sexual activity.

    Testosterone is made mainly by the testicles. Small amounts of testosterone are also made in the adrenal glands. It may also be produced in the lab to treat certain conditions. The pear-shaped, hollow, muscular organ in the pelvis of females that contains and nourishes the fetus during pregnancy. Call us toll-free at Or write us. We will reply by email or phone if you leave us your details.

    If we are not able to reach you by phone, we will leave a voicemail message. Learn more. Select the text below and copy the link. The pituitary gland The pituitary gland is a small, pea-sized gland found inside the skull and below the brain.

    Pituitary gland hormones The pituitary gland makes 9 different hormones.