What’s new in pituitary tumor research and treatment?
Research into pituitary tumors is under way in many university hospitals, medical centers, and other institutions around the country.
Doctors now have a better understanding of the genetic basis of pituitary tumors. This is already leading to improvements in genetic testing for people who are suspected of having multiple endocrine neoplasia, type I (MEN1) or other syndromes. This work is also shedding light on the characteristics of non-functioning adenomas that may lead to new medical therapies for these tumors.
Imaging tests such as MRI scans continue to improve, leading to better accuracy in finding and determining the extent of new and recurrent tumors.
Surgical techniques are improving, allowing doctors to remove tumors with fewer complications than ever before. Radiation therapy techniques are improving as well, letting doctors focus radiation more precisely on tumors and limiting the damage to nearby normal tissues.
Progress is also being made in the medicines used to treat both pituitary tumors and the side effects of some other forms of treatment. For example, growth hormone is now produced by DNA technology and has been approved for treating adults who may not have enough growth hormone after treatment for a pituitary tumor.
As doctors learn more about how cells make hormones, they are finding ways to block their production. This should lead to new drugs to prevent pituitary adenomas from making hormones that upset the balance of the body. One example is a drug called pasireotide (Signifor®), a new somatostatin analog that works directly on ACTH-secreting pituitary tumors. It is now FDA approved to help treat people who have Cushing’s disease as a result of these tumors when surgery is not an option or has not been effective.
Another example is a drug called dopastatin, which combines properties of other drugs already used to treat pituitary tumors: dopamine agonists (such as cabergoline) and somatostatin analogs (such as octreotide). This drug and others like it are still in the earliest stages of testing.
Last Medical Review: 01/11/2013
Last Revised: 01/11/2013