Nonsecreting Pituitary Tumor

What Is It?

A nonsecreting pituitary tumor is a pituitary adenoma which does not actively secrete any hormone. Like other pituitary adenomas, it is a benign tumor arising in the anterior pituitary gland. However, while some pituitary adenomas abnormally secrete too much of one of the pituitary gland hormones, causing symptoms related to excess of that hormone, nonsecreting (or endocrine inactive) tumors do not secrete any hormone. Therefore, while they do not cause symptoms of excess hormone, they can cause other symptoms related to the presence of the tumor.

What Types of Symptoms Are Typical?

While a nonsecreting tumor does not have a specific syndrome associated with secretion of a hormone, it can lead to loss of normal hormonal function of one or more of the pituitary hormones (hypopituitarism), causing symptoms of hormone deficiencies. Additionally, as it enlarges, it can lead to compression of the optic chiasm, a part of the visual system in the brain which leads to loss of normal vision, most classically presenting as a bitemporal hemianopsia (loss of peripheral vision on both sides) with or without general loss of visual acuity. Headaches are also common as they are with many types of tumors in and around the brain.

How Is The Diagnosis Typically Made?

The diagnosis of a nonsecreting tumor is made in the same way as any pituitary adenoma. This includes imaging, such as a pituitary (or sellar) MRI scan to identify the presence of the tumor mass. Hormonal testing will also be used to confirm that no pituitary hormone is being secreted in excess (with the possible exception of moderately elevated levels of prolactin) and to evaluate for deficiencies of other pituitary hormones.

What Are Some Common Treatments?

Treatments vary from patient to patient but generally include transsphenoidal surgery for patients with symptomatic tumors and hormonal replacement (such as growth hormone supplements, thyroid hormones, etc.) for patients with any loss of pituitary function. See the treatments for pituitary adenomas for more details about transsphenoidal surgery and other treatments used for these types of tumors.

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Important Note: This site is not intended to offer medical advice. Every patient is different, and only your personal physician can help to counsel you about what is best for your situation. What we offer is general reference information about various disorders and treatments for your education.

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