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What are the treatments for pituitary tumors?

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The most common treatments for pituitary tumors are1:

  • Drug therapy. Drugs can be given to treat the abnormal hormone levels caused by functioning pituitary tumors. The drug given depends on the hormone that is affected by the tumor.
  • Surgery. The tumor is removed by performing an operation. The surgeon may reach the pituitary gland through a cut made under the upper lip or at the bottom of the nose between the nostrils. In other cases, the surgeon may cut through the skull to reach the pituitary tumor. Even if the tumor is completely removed, patients are commonly given radiation and chemotherapy after surgery to kill any tumor cells that might be present.
  • Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy involves targeting a tumor with high-energy X-rays that kill tumor cells or keep them from growing.
  • Chemotherapy. Chemotherapy uses drugs that kill tumor cells or keep them from growing. Chemotherapy can be taken by mouth or injected.

The primary approach for treatment will depend on the type of pituitary tumor.

To find out more about treatments for pituitary tumors, visit the National Cancer Institute's Treatment Option Overview section on pituitary tumors.


  1. National Cancer Institute. (2011). Pituitary tumors treatment (PDQ). Retrieved February 28, 2012, from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/pituitary/Patient/page9/AllPages#7 [top]

Last Updated Date: 11/30/2012
Last Reviewed Date: 11/30/2012
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