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Non-Functioning Tumors

Pituitary adenomas that do not produce hormones—or produce minimal amounts of hormone—are classified as non-functioning or silent tumors.These tumors are the most common pituitary adenoma subtype.

Typically, these tumors continue growing until the sheer size of the mass begins to compress surrounding structures and cause symptoms. These macroadenomas are tumors greater than one centimeter in diameter.

Symptoms

  • Bitemporal hemianopsia (loss of vision to the sides): This symptom may develop if the optic chiasm, which lies just above the normal pituitary gland, becomes compressed.
  • Hypopituitarism (an insufficiency of pituitary hormones): If the pituitary gland itself is compressed, a patient may experience a range of symptoms.
  • Headache is also commonly noted in patients with this disease.

Evaluation & Treatment

Following a thorough evaluation that includes hormonal and visual testing, these tumors are typically best treated initially with surgery, usually transsphenoidal microneurosurgery. Most patients will experience an improvement in their visual symptoms shortly after surgery. Depending on whether the tumor can be totally removed at the time of the operation, patients may be referred following the surgery for focused radio-surgery.

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