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Penn Pituitary Center offers a full range of advanced techniques and therapies available today to treat a pituitary tumor—no matter its size, location or complexity. We provide new hope and improved quality of life to patients with tumors previously considered untreatable or patients who may have been misdiagnosed elsewhere. Our experts are known for their extensive training, experience and expertise in minimally invasive techniques, and their ability to determine the most effective course of treatment for each patient.

Most pituitary tumors can be surgically removed through the sinus cavity. This minimally invasive technique is performed jointly between neurosurgeons and ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgeons. If necessary, other pituitary surgery treatment options include craniotomy and radiosurgery.

Penn Medicine’s neurosurgery department offers the following medical and surgical interventions for pituitary tumors:

Medication

There are some pituitary tumors that may respond to medication. In this case, our dedicated Penn Pituitary Center nurses will instruct patients in self-administration of specialized neuroendocrine medications. Treatment with medications may help to regulate hormone secretion, block excess hormone secretion, and sometimes shrink certain types of pituitary tumors.

Surgery

Dr. LeeIf surgery is required, Penn neurosurgeons use advanced endoscopic and microscopic techniques along with intraoperative image guidance to remove the tumor and achieve the best results.

  • Minimally-invasive: Most pituitary tumors can be surgically removed using a microscope or an endoscope through the nose (transnasally) without incisions to the face or skull. The ENT surgeon places the endoscope in the nasal cavity and advances the scope until it reaches the sphenoid sinus. The neurosurgeon is then able to reach the pituitary tumor located at the base of the skull. The procedure offers less postoperative discomfort, fewer complications, and a shorter recovery period.
  • Craniotomy: If a pituitary tumor is too large or cannot be removed transnasally, a craniotomy may be necessary. A craniotomy is a surgical procedure in which a bone flap is temporarily removed from the skull to reach a tumor. In some cases, a craniotomy is the most effective means of completely removing a pituitary tumor.

Radiation Therapy

Penn Medicine offers the most advanced radiation therapy for the treatment of pituitary tumors.

  • Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT): This advanced type of radiotherapy uses a computer-controlled device, called a linear accelerator, to deliver precise doses of radiation to tumors or specific areas within the tumors. Five to seven modulated fields of radiation precisely shape the radiation field to conform to the target and avoid normal tissue. 
  • Gamma Knife®: Gamma Knife® therapy is one of the most precise, powerful and proven treatments for brain disorders such as pituitary tumors. The Gamma Knife delivers a single high dose of gamma radiation stereotactically to the tumor. Gamma knife can also be done on residual tumors.
  • Proton Beam therapy: Penn Medicine is one of the few hospitals in the country to offer proton beam therapy to treat pituitary tumors. This non-invasive, high-precision, radiosurgical technique treats the tumor while minimizing damage to surrounding areas.

Watchful Waiting

Some pituitary tumors don’t require surgery and are monitored for some time to see if they grow.

Clinical Trials

From basic research to clinical trials, Penn Neurosurgery is playing an important role in advancing the treatment of brain disorders such as pituitary tumors. Penn has led the development of many of today’s surgical treatments and protocols. Our end goal is always to advance surgery in ways that will improve patient outcomes while keeping as much of the healthy brain tissue intact as possible. There are three main clinical trials for pituitary tumors at Penn:
  • Medical therapy for growth hormone and ACTH producing (Cushing’s) tumors 
  • Radiation oncology trials using proton beam 
  • Fluorescent tumor dyes used during surgery to better separate tumor tissue from normal tissue

Speak to your Penn healthcare provider for more information on participating in a clinical trial.

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