Functioning and non-functioning pituitary tumours

A pituitary tumour is an abnormal growth in the pituitary gland. These tumours can be
‘non-functioning’ or ‘functioning’.

Non-functioning pituitary tumours: although these do not lead to excessive hormone production, as they enlarge they can put pressure on the pituitary gland, causing reduced or absent hormonal production (hypopituitarism or pituitary failure). They can also cause headaches and affect eyesight as they press on the optic nerve.

Functioning pituitary tumours: these can result in the over-production of hormones, leading to serious endocrine disorders such as:

  • Acromegaly (caused by too much growth hormone)
  • Prolactinoma (caused by too much prolactin)
  • Cushing’s syndrome (caused by too much ACTH hormone)
  • Thyrotrophinoma (caused by too much thyroid stimulating hormone)
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