Treatment of Non-Functional Pituitary Tumors (Tumors That Don’t Make Excess Hormones)

Not all pituitary tumors need to be treated right away, especially if they’re not growing or causing symptoms. But larger tumors and those that are clearly growing typically require treatment.

Large tumors

Large tumors (macroadenomas) that are causing symptoms are often treated with surgery. This helps get rid of the symptoms and danger to nearby vital structures quickly. As with gonadotropin-secreting tumors, frequent MRI scans are done early after treatment. If there is re-growth of the adenoma, further surgery or radiation therapy may be used. Drug treatment is usually not helpful in treating these tumors, but doctors have reported some success using the chemotherapy drug temozolomide for fast-growing tumors.


These are small pituitary tumors (microadenomas) that are detected on MRI or CT scans done for other reasons. They usually don’t cause symptoms because they’re not large enough to press on nearby structures and they don’t secrete high levels of any hormone.

Most doctors recommend just watching these tumors, with regular physical exams and repeat MRI scans to see if they are growing. Hormone levels may be checked at least once as well. If the tumor starts growing or causing symptoms, it can then be treated. But the important point is that people with incidentalomas shouldn’t get unnecessary tests or treatments.

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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