Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Brain Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Pituitary Tumors Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Prolactin-Producing Pituitary Tumors Treatment

Standard Treatment Options for Prolactin (PRL)-Producing Pituitary Tumors

Standard treatment options for PRL-producing pituitary tumors include the following:

  1. Dopamine agonists, such as cabergoline and bromocriptine.[1,2,3,4,5]
  2. Surgery (second-line).[1,2]
  3. Radiation therapy (occasionally).[1,2]

When the pituitary tumor secretes PRL, treatment will depend on tumor size and the symptoms that result from excessive hormone production. Patients with PRL-secreting tumors are treated with surgery and radiation therapy.[1]

Most microprolactinomas and macroprolactinomas respond well to medical therapy with ergot-derived dopamine agonists, including bromocriptine and cabergoline.[2] For many patients, cabergoline has a more satisfactory side effect profile than bromocriptine. Cabergoline therapy may be successful in treating patients whose prolactinomas are resistant to bromocriptine or who cannot tolerate bromocriptine, and this treatment has a success rate of more than 90% in patients with newly diagnosed prolactinomas.[3,4,5] In a prospective study, cabergoline was safely withdrawn in patients with normalized prolactin levels and no evidence of tumor, which may effect a cure rate of approximately 70%.[6] On the basis of its safety record in pregnancy, however, bromocriptine is the treatment of choice when restoration of fertility is the patient's goal.[7]

Microprolactinomas change little in size with treatment, but macroprolactinomas can be expected to shrink, sometimes quite dramatically. Microprolactinomas may decrease in size over time and have been observed to undergo complete, spontaneous resolution on occasion.[8] Surgery is typically reserved for those patients who cannot tolerate dopamine agonists, who suffer pituitary apoplexy during treatment, or whose macroprolactinomas are not responsive to medical therapy.[2] Occasionally, these tumors may ultimately require radiation therapy.[9]

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with pituitary tumor. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.


  1. Yeh PJ, Chen JW: Pituitary tumors: surgical and medical management. Surg Oncol 6 (2): 67-92, 1997.
  2. Levy A: Pituitary disease: presentation, diagnosis, and management. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 75 (Suppl 3): iii47-52, 2004.
  3. Colao A, Di Sarno A, Landi ML, et al.: Macroprolactinoma shrinkage during cabergoline treatment is greater in naive patients than in patients pretreated with other dopamine agonists: a prospective study in 110 patients. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 85 (6): 2247-52, 2000.
  4. Cannavò S, Curtò L, Squadrito S, et al.: Cabergoline: a first-choice treatment in patients with previously untreated prolactin-secreting pituitary adenoma. J Endocrinol Invest 22 (5): 354-9, 1999.
  5. Colao A, Di Sarno A, Landi ML, et al.: Long-term and low-dose treatment with cabergoline induces macroprolactinoma shrinkage. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 82 (11): 3574-9, 1997.
  6. Colao A, Di Sarno A, Cappabianca P, et al.: Withdrawal of long-term cabergoline therapy for tumoral and nontumoral hyperprolactinemia. N Engl J Med 349 (21): 2023-33, 2003.
  7. Schlechte JA: Clinical practice. Prolactinoma. N Engl J Med 349 (21): 2035-41, 2003.
  8. Ezzat S, Asa SL, Couldwell WT, et al.: The prevalence of pituitary adenomas: a systematic review. Cancer 101 (3): 613-9, 2004.
  9. Nomikos P, Buchfelder M, Fahlbusch R: Current management of prolactinomas. J Neurooncol 54 (2): 139-50, 2001.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

    Last Updated: May 28, 2015
    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.
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    doctor and patient
    How to know when it’s time for home care
    doctory with x-ray
    Here are 10 to know.
    sauteed cherry tomatoes
    Fight cancer one plate at a time.
    Lung cancer xray
    See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
    Malignant Gliomas
    Pets Improve Your Health
    Headache Emergencies
    life after a brain tumor

    Would you consider trying alternative or complementary therapies?