Treatment of Pituitary Carcinomas

Pituitary carcinomas are very rare tumors that have already spread to other parts of the body when they're found. Because so few people around the world have this cancer, it's been difficult to learn much about it, and it's hard to diagnose and treat. At this time, most treatment is focused on easing the problems caused by the cancer. This is called supportive or palliative care.

Surgery and radiation therapy are the main forms of treatment used. They may decrease tumor size, slow tumor growth, and help prevent or relieve symptoms. Surgery may be repeated, if needed.

Medicines are used to manage hormone levels in functional pituitary carcinomas. These are the same drugs used to treat pituitary adenomas, but higher doses and combinations of drugs may be needed.

Chemotherapy and newer targeted therapy drugs may be tried, but it’s not fully clear that these treatments improve survival. A chemo drug called temozolomide has been found to help and may be tried if surgery and radiation don't work. Because pituitary carcinoma affects so few patients, it’s hard to study which treatments might be effective. Taking part in a clinical trial of a new treatment may be a good option.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

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Last Revised: November 2, 2017

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