Pituitary gland
tumours

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Treatments for pituitary carcinoma

The following are treatment options for pituitary carcinoma. Your healthcare team will suggest treatments based on your needs and work with you to develop a treatment plan.

Since pituitary carcinoma is only diagnosed after it has spread to another part of the body (metastasized), treatments are usually to control the symptoms of the disease rather than to treat the disease itself (palliative treatment). Find out more about choosing care and treatment for advanced cancer.

Surgery

Surgery is usually offered for pituitary carcinoma. The tumour in the pituitary gland is removed by transsphenoidal surgery or craniotomy.

If pituitary carcinoma spreads to the central nervous system (CNS), surgery (surgical resection) is sometimes done to remove metastases. Find out more about brain metastases.

Drug therapy

Dopamine agonists or somatostatin analogues are used if the pituitary carcinoma is a functioning tumour that makes too many hormones. Dopamine agonists are used for prolactin-producing tumours. Somatostatin analogues are used for pituitary carcinomas that make too much growth hormone, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) or adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH).

Chemotherapy using temozolomide (Temodal) may be used to treat pituitary carcinoma. It is not a standard treatment, but some studies have shown promise using temozolomide.

Radiation therapy

External beam radiation therapy may be offered after surgery for pituitary carcinoma. How many sessions of external beam radiation therapy are used depends on many factors including the size, location and number of metastases being treated, the specific type of radiation therapy used and how severe symptoms are.

Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) is rarely used for pituitary carcinoma. It is usually only available through a clinical trial.

Clinical trials

A few clinical trials in Canada are open to people with pituitary carcinoma. Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, find and treat cancer. Find out more about clinical trials.

central nervous system (CNS)

The brain and spinal cord, which work together to control all the functions of the body.

The brain receives messages (electrical signals) from nerves in the spinal cord and cranial nerves. The nerves in the spinal cord carry messages between the brain and the body.

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