How Are Pituitary Tumors Staged?

Staging is the process of determining how far a cancer has spread. This is done to guide treatment and to help determine the most likely outcome for the patient. But pituitary tumors are nearly always benign (not cancer), so there is no staging system for them. Pituitary carcinoma (cancer) is too rare for a staging system to have been developed.

The most useful information for guiding the treatment of a pituitary adenoma is:

  • Whether it is a microadenoma (smaller than 1 centimeter across) or macroadenoma (1 centimeter across or larger)
  • Whether it has grown into nearby structures (such as bones of the skull)
  • Whether it is causing symptoms such as vision changes
  • Whether it is functional (making excess hormones) or non-functional
  • Which hormone it releases

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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