Pituitary Surgery and Tumours

Pituitary Surgery and Tumours

Pituitary Surgery and Tumours Frequently Asked Questions in Singapore

What is Pituitary Surgery?

Pituitary surgery is a procedure in Singapore that removes tumours from the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is a gland that is found at the base of the skull and the top of the inside of your nose.

The pituitary gland is a pea-sized organ responsible for monitoring many bodily functions. This is done through the hormones it produces such as follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). Other hormones produced by the pituitary gland include adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) and prolactin (PRL) for women.

Pituitary tumours can be removed through endoscopic pituitary surgery also known as transsphenoidal pituitary surgery. This procedure is carried out through the nose as tumours may grow into the sphenoid sinus which is near the nasal cavity.

What causes Pituitary Tumours?

Pituitary tumours are typically non-cancerous growths that are caused by excessive hormone production in the pituitary gland. In Singapore, less than 1% of pituitary tumours turn out to be cancerous. Benign pituitary tumours do not spread to other parts of the body. They are usually detected through MRI scans or by discussing symptoms experienced by the patient to pinpoint a cause of the discomfort.

Pituitary tumours could also be caused by hereditary disorders. Conditions like the Carney complex tend to produce benign tumours in hormone-producing glands.

Larger pituitary tumours usually measure at about 1 centimetre and are referred to as macroadenomas. Pituitary tumours smaller than 1 centimetre are referred to as microadenomas. However, larger pituitary tumours are prone to putting pressure on the pituitary gland which not only leads to discomfort but also a lack of hormone production.

Some causes of pituitary tumours in Singapore may include: 

  • Inherited disorders
  • Cell changes
  • Certain medications

What are symptoms of Pituitary Tumours?

  • Vision problems
  • Pain near the front of head
  • Change in menstrual cycle
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Weight gain

Are Pituitary Tumours painful?

Pituitary tumours can be painful if they have become large enough to press on the pituitary gland. In some cases, a tumour pressing on the optic nerve causes blurred or double vision. Headaches can occur as well due to the pressure of the tumour on the pituitary gland. They typically present on the front of the head where the pituitary gland is located.

Pituitary tumours can also cause changes in menstrual cycles for women and decreased testosterone levels in men in Singapore. These conditions lead to irritability due to hormonal imbalances and can be painful depending on how serious these changes are.

Who is at risk of suffering from Pituitary Tumours in Singapore?

Pituitary tumours are a common occurrence amongst Singaporeans. As pituitary tumours tend to occur genetically, those who have a family history of pituitary tumours may be more prone to developing them. This is because pituitary tumours are typically present in genetic disorders, which patients then inherit from family members even with a healthy lifestyle.

Patients who are obese or overweight may also be at risk of pituitary tumours. This is due to hormonal imbalances that affect the regulation of weight which also makes it challenging to remove the tumours without surgical intervention and hormonal regulation.

How are Pituitary Tumours diagnosed?

Pituitary tumours are diagnosed through a medical examination by your doctor who will evaluate your symptoms. However, this is rare as most pituitary tumours are benign and do not present any symptoms in the average patient.

Pituitary tumours are usually discovered on MRI scans and CT scans that the patient undergoes routinely. They can also be suspected when conducting blood and urine tests as your doctor will monitor your hormone levels to detect any abnormalities.

While pituitary tumours are often non-cancerous, detecting a pituitary tumour on a routine scan may prompt your doctor to administer a biopsy test especially if you have a history of cancer in your family. Removing a tissue sample at the site of examination will help to check if cancer or other abnormal cells are present in the pituitary tumour.

What are some treatment options for Pituitary Tumours in Singapore?

Pituitary tumours can be treated in Singapore by undergoing surgery. This is an option that will be suggested by your doctor if the tumour is causing serious discomfort such as pressing onto your optic nerve and affecting your vision. Endoscopic pituitary surgery involves using a camera to guide your doctor to the location of the tumour.

In cases where the effects of the pituitary tumour are hormone-related, medication can be prescribed to restore the hormonal balances in your body. This could also be an initial treatment option to manage symptoms brought on by a pituitary tumour.

Radiation therapy is also an option to remove pituitary tumours. If the tumour cannot be treated through surgery or medication, radiation therapy may stop tumour growth and cause it to shrink through the use of high-energy rays.

Allergy & Sinus ENT Specialist Centre
Head & Neck Surgery Singapore

Dr Soma Subramaniam
Consultant ENT Specialist and Surgeon

    * Please note that the requested appointment date and time is subject to availability. The respective clinic will contact you for confirmation.

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