Skip to content

Brain & Nervous System Health Center

Font Size

Stages of Pituitary Tumors

    Once a pituitary tumor has been diagnosed, tests are done to find out if it has spread within the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) or to other parts of the body.

    The extent or spread of cancer is usually described as stages. There is no standard staging system for pituitary tumors. Once a pituitary tumor is found, tests are done to find out if the tumor has spread into the brain or to other parts of the body. The following test may be used:

    • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): A procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. This procedure is also called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI).

    Pituitary tumors are described in several ways.

    Pea, peanut, walnut, and lime show tumor sizes.

    Pituitary tumors are described by their size and grade, whether or not they make extra hormones, and whether the tumor has spread to other parts of the body.

    The following sizes are used:

    • Microadenoma: The tumor is smaller than 1 centimeter.
    • Macroadenoma: The tumor is 1 centimeter or larger.

    Most pituitary adenomas are microadenomas.

    The grade of a pituitary tumor is based on how far it has grown into the surrounding area of the brain, including the sella (the bone at the base of the skull, where the pituitary gland sits).

      WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

      Last Updated: February 25, 2014
      This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

      Today on WebMD

      nerve damage
      Learn how this disease affects the nervous system.
      senior woman with lost expression
      Know the early warning signs.
      Close up of eye
      12 culprits that affect your ability to focus.
      medical marijuana plant
      What is it used for?
      senior man
      brain research briefing
      Vaccine and needle
      mans hands on laptop keyboard
      brain illustration stroke
      most common stroke symptoms
      Parkinsons Disease Medications