The signs and symptoms commonly associated with pituitary tumors derived from each specific cell type (i.e., prolactinomas, corticotroph adenomas, somatotroph adenomas, thyrotroph adenomas, and nonfunctioning adenomas) are as follows:
- Signs and symptoms of prolactinomas may include:
- Signs and symptoms of corticotroph adenomas may include:
- Visual field deficits.
- Proximal myopathy.
- Centripetal fat distribution.
- Neuropsychiatric symptoms.
- Ability to easily bruise.
- Skin thinning.
- Signs and symptoms of somatotroph adenomas may include:
- Signs and symptoms of thyrotroph adenomas may include:
- Weight loss.
- Signs and symptoms of nonfunctioning adenomas (most commonly gonadotroph adenomas) may include:
- Visual field deficits.
- Pituitary insufficiency, which is due to compression of the pituitary stalk or destruction of normal pituitary tissue by the tumor, and predominantly manifests as secondary hypogonadism.
- Rarely, ovarian overstimulation, testicular enlargement, or increased testosterone levels.
In addition to cell-type specific presentations, pituitary apoplexy (i.e., pituitary adenoma apoplexy), which can result from an acute hemorrhagic or ischemic infarction of the pituitary in patients harboring often unrecognized secreting or nonfunctioning pituitary adenomas, represents another important clinical presentation of pituitary adenomas. In a series analyzing 40 cases of pituitary apoplexy, the presenting signs and symptoms included headache (63%), vomiting (50%), visual field defects (61%), ocular paresis (40%), mental deterioration (13%), hyponatremia (13%), and syncope (5%); in only four cases pituitary tumor was diagnosed prior to presentation. The development of pituitary adenomas may also occur as a component of three familial cancer syndromes: multiple endocrine neoplasia 1 (MEN 1), Carney complex (e.g., cardiac myxomas, spotty skin pigmentation, and tumors of the adrenal gland and anterior pituitary), and isolated familial acromegaly.
A number of other lesions should be considered in the differential diagnosis of sellar masses. Although rare, lymphocytic (i.e., autoimmune) hypophysitis should be considered in the differential diagnosis of any nonsecreting pituitary mass, especially when occurring during pregnancy or postpartum. In addition, the clinician should consider craniopharyngioma and Rathke cleft cyst in the differential diagnosis of pituitary tumors. Sellar masses may also result from tumors that are metastatic to the pituitary. This typically occurs as a part of a generalized metastatic spread and is usually associated with five or more additional metastatic sites, especially osseous; breast and lung cancer are the most common primary neoplasms metastasizing to the pituitary.
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