Pituitary adenomas typically grow slowly and can respond well to treatment. Standard treatment options may include surgery, radiation therapy, and medications.

Pituitary adenomas are tumors that develop on a small gland at the base of the brain. The pituitary gland is crucial in managing the body’s day-to-day functions. It is also essential for reproduction, growth, and healthy development.

Pituitary adenomas are benign, which means that they are not cancerous. However, they may cause side effects such as impaired vision or headaches. Most people with pituitary adenomas benefit from surgical treatment.

Read on to find out about the most common pituitary adenoma treatments.

An MRI scan showing a pituitary adenoma. -1Share on Pinterest
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Choosing the right treatment for pituitary adenoma depends on the person and the type of tumor they have.

For example, non-functional pituitary adenomas may not require surgery. These tumors do not produce hormones and may not cause any health problems.

However, doctors may recommend surgery for adenomas that are large or growing. Surgery may help reduce symptoms, such as headaches or vision changes. Successful removal of a non-functioning adenoma greatly increases a person’s chances of living disease-free.

Functioning pituitary adenomas produce different types of hormones. These tumors may secrete growth hormones, which can lead to uncontrolled growth. They can also secrete steroids, which may cause Cushing’s disease.

Surgery can help prevent complications resulting from uncontrolled growth and abnormal hormone secretion.


A surgeon typically begins by making a small incision inside the nose. They use instruments to open the sinus wall before inserting an endoscope through the nasal cavity.

An endoscope is a thin tube with a lens and camera. This tool allows the surgeon to visualize the inside of the body as they remove the pituitary adenoma.

Possible side effects

After surgery, people may experience side effects, such as:

  • bleeding
  • infections
  • sinus headaches
  • congestion
  • leaking of cerebrospinal fluid
  • decline in vision

Surgery can also increase the chance of developing meningitis.

Additionally, people may experience temporary diabetes for a few weeks following surgery.

Surgery is not always an option.

And in some cases, it may not entirely remove a tumor, or the tumor may return after some time. Certain medications may help treat tumors that are unresponsive to other treatments.

A doctor will prescribe medication depending on the type of pituitary adenoma.

Some tumors produce prolactin, which can affect sexual function. For these tumors, dopamine agonists, such as cabergoline and bromocriptine, can help stop prolactin production and shrink tumors.

Other pituitary adenomas produce steroids such as cortisol. If surgery is not effective for these tumors, possible medication options can include:

  • cabergoline
  • pasireotide
  • mifepristone
  • steroidogenesis inhibitors

Possible side effects

Possible side effects of these medications may include:

  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • vomiting
  • constipation or diarrhea
  • headaches

Consult a medical professional or pharmacist to review potential side effects before starting a new medication.

Radiation therapy can help treat some instances of pituitary adenoma. This treatment uses high doses of radiation to shrink pituitary tumors.

People who are not eligible for surgery may benefit from radiation. Tumors that recur after surgery or do not respond to medication may also respond better to radiation therapy.


Before beginning radiation, doctors typically perform imaging tests to determine the tumor’s location. After they determine the size and location of the tumor, radiation can begin.

During a radiation therapy session, a patient lies on a table as a machine delivers targeted doses of radiation. The entire process generally takes between 15 and 30 minutes.

Possible side effects

Some people experience mild side effects from radiation therapy. Others may find that radiation therapy makes it difficult to perform routine daily activities.

Some common side effects of this treatment include:

  • fatigue
  • hair loss
  • skin irritation or blisters
  • nausea

In addition to medical treatments, some people with pituitary adenoma may find relief from homeopathic remedies, such as supplementation.

However, research on dietary supplements for pituitary adenoma remains limited. It is crucial to speak with a doctor before trying any alternative remedies.

The outlook for people diagnosed with pituitary adenoma varies significantly from person to person.

Some people may respond well to medical treatment. Others may experience a recurrence of their tumors.

In certain cases, pituitary adenomas may grow and spread to other areas of the body.

After treatment for pituitary adenoma, it is important to schedule regular follow-up visits with a doctor. During these visits, a doctor can monitor symptoms to determine whether there is a risk of recurrence.

Here are some frequently asked questions about pituitary adenoma.

Is pituitary adenoma curable?

Pituitary adenoma is curable in many cases. Non-functioning adenomas are more likely to be cured. People diagnosed with this type of adenoma typically fully recover if they receive prompt treatment.

Functioning adenomas can be more challenging to treat and may lead to additional health complications.

What type of doctors treat pituitary adenoma?

There are many different doctors who may help with pituitary adenoma treatments, such as neurosurgeons, endocrinologists, ophthalmologists, ENT doctors, and radiation oncologists.

Pituitary adenomas are benign tumors that affect the pituitary gland. Typical treatments for these tumors include surgery, medication, and radiation therapy.

Many people with pituitary adenoma make a full recovery. However, it is also possible for adenomas to resist treatment. In some cases, adenomas may come back after successful treatment.

People with pituitary adenoma should work closely with their doctor to learn about treatment options. With the right treatment and a supportive care team, it is possible to recover fully.