What’s New in Pituitary Tumor Research and Treatment?

Research into pituitary tumors is taking place in many university hospitals, medical centers, and other institutions around the world.

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, which 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 don’t make enough growth hormone after treatment for a pituitary tumor.

Doctors are looking to see if combining some of the drugs used to treat pituitary tumors (at lower doses) might work better than using a single drug for some types of tumors. Researchers are also studying some newer drugs. An example is lapatinib (Tykerb), a drug that targets a protein called HER2, which is found in large amounts on some fast-growing cells (including some pituitary tumor cells). This drug is already used to treat breast cancer, and it is now being studied for use against pituitary tumors.

Other drugs are now being studied in clinical trials as well.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: May 8, 2014 Last Revised: December 17, 2014

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