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What Is a Pituitary Tumor? My Symptoms and Experience of a Prolactinoma

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I was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor at age 23. Learn of my symptoms and know that it is a "somewhat common" type of tumor in the brain.

What Is a Pituitary Gland?

A pituitary gland is found at the base of your brain. It's a small oval shaped gland right below the optic nerve.

Your pituitary is what produces your hormones and it controls your other glands which produces your body growth, etc. The Pituitary Gland is commonly known as the "master gland."

Types of Adenoma Pituitary Tumors

Before I begin, it's important to let you know that most of pituitary tumors are benign. The tumors can be classified as these sizes.

  • Macroadenomas (small tumors over 10cm) The macroadenoma can put pressure on your optic nerves if continues to grow. The types of pituitary tumor is also called a prolactinoma.

Functioning Prolactinoma Pituitary Tumors

This information describes each type of tumor as far as whether they secrete prolactin or are they functioning or non-functioning type of tumor.

  • Prolactinoma-Tumor that secretes prolactin

I have a pituitary tumor which is called a Prolactinoma because my tumor secretes prolactin. Actually, when I found out there was a problem, my shirt would be wet on each side where my breasts sit. That was my first clue. Of course, I was 20 and knew absolutely nothing about a tumor nor even crossed my mind anything like that could even happen.

  • Functioning and non-functioning tumors:

Functioning tumors (which make up about 70% of pituitary tumors) secrete prolactin or different types of hormones. Non-functioning tumors make up the rest and can cause a few more problems because it doesn't secrete any hormones.

Picture Of The Brain Showing Where The Pituitary Gland Is

Signs and Symptoms Of a Pituitary Tumor

I didn't have any other signs of a problem at all besides leaking breast milk. I was not pregnant, so I had no idea of what was going on. After about a week of discharge from my breasts, I thought I better check into it. While waiting to get into the appointment next month, I was due for my menstrual cycle.

After a week, I still have not started my period. I thought perhaps I was pregnant. That made a little more sense; breast milk, no periods. I was definitely pregnant. I did have a steady boyfriend I was seeing for a few years and, well, you know the rest. I ended up getting a pregnancy test which came back negative. So, I waited another 2 weeks, (while I am still having discharge from my breasts); still negative after a blood test even. Had to see more Dr.s about it; none could explain.

My period finally came after about 4 months. They said it was because the birth control pill caused me to have my periods messed up- no one could explain the breast milk.

So, now I'm 21 and still trying to figure out what is going on. My periods actually came to a halt when I was about 22 and also met my husband (now), when I was 23.

When I was 24, we married and never had another cycle. Well, without a menstrual cycle, you can't have kids. After a few visits with various doctors trying to figure out what is going on, they finally diagnosed me with the tumor. That's why I was secreting breast milk because of the prolactin releasing pituitary tumor.

To shrink the pituitary tumor, I started taking Parlodel. After about 6 months or so on the medicine, my prolactin levels dropped enough because I was able to get pregnant. I cried like I never cried before. They said I couldn't have children.

Are Pituitary Tumors Common?

Pituitary Tumors Are Common

First, let me say, I was blessed with a wonderful child and I thank God for him every day. I still have the tumor and I am 44. I get it checked every couple years or when I remember because I do have other health issues that interfere with my caring about it basically.

This kind of tumor is more common that you realize and I wrote this article to share my experience and hopefully let someone else know that you can still have a child if you have a prolactinoma and ALMOST ALL pituitary tumors are benign (not cancerous).

The downsize of having a pituitary tumor, is that if they remove it, they say about 90% of them grow back. That's why I never had mine removed and I just keep tabs on it and make sure to have it checked. They can grow and if you start to have vision problems, it could be an indication it is pressing on your optic nerve. Make sure to visit your doctor regularly and get blood tests done to watch your prolactin levels.

If you have any questions, I would be happy to help answer them or find out the information you are looking for.

Thanks for reading my hub and please check out my other hubs as most of what I write is on health issues.D

Do Pituitary Tumors Cause Headaches?

I did want to add the Doctors say it doesn't cause headaches, but I disagree. I have talked to a lot of people who have these tumors, and almost all of them complain of headaches. I live on Excedrin migraine. It's just my thought. If you have any input or insight, feel free to join in on the comments as they are most welcome!

Adult With Cushing's Syndrome

Cushing' Disease

A Pituitary Tumor Can Cause Cushing's Syndrome or Cushing's Disease

Now, there is another disease called "Cushing'a Disease" caused by a pituitary tumor also. This is a little more rare of a condition by the pituitary, but it can arise.Cushings has different more noticeable symptoms which are as follows:

  • Moon face (Round, full figured face and usually red)
  • Above the waist (your upper body) is usually on the heavier side but you have thin legs and arms
  • Very slow growth when you were young
  • Excess hair on your face is a very good noticeable sign as well

I didn't have Cushings, so I don't know a whole lot about the disease, but I will provide you with plenty of links and information here as well so you can check that out if it will help you any.

Hpw A Pituitary Tumor Can Damage Your Eyes

Information On Prolactinomas and Tumors

Comments

Lisa (author) from Central USA on November 18, 2015:

Yes, Nicole I have Had cluster headaches for years and I believe it is due to the tumor. I have read other stories and they also suffer from headaches. All in all, I guess if you're going to have a tumor in your brain, that's the best place to have one as I've had mine for almost 30 years

Nicole B on November 12, 2015:

I also have a pituitary adenoma and suffer from what they call "Cluster Headaches". The doctor said they aren't from my tumor, but I also have a hard time believing that.

Lisa (author) from Central USA on June 29, 2014:

Helen: I am so sorry for all that you are going through. I am not a Dr., but do you have moon face? Hair on your face? Are you a large woman perhaps? I had a friend with cushings and she was a very un-ordinarily large woman and her skin seemed very TIGHT like it was stretching over her body. Now, just so you know, she had her pituitary removed because of the cushings and she is just fine..this was 20 years ago and I ran into her 5 years ago..I still have my prolactinoma as it isn't causing me any problems as of yet and I have had mine for 25 years. If it wasn't for the tumor, I would not have known I had cervical cancer until probably stage 3 or 4 since I had abnormal vag bleeding. Do you have your periods still? Please comment back and I would be happy to try to help you ..Did you have a chance to look at the links about Cushings that I supplied you with? Did you read my cervical cancer story at http://www.aboutcervicalcancer.com/

Helen on June 29, 2014:

Having done hours and hours and hours of research on prolactinomas I found your post to be one of the best. I am 28 and have had a prolactinoma for 12 years now. I have also recently had a cervical cancer scare after abnormal bleeding but after the fourth smear test (first 3 weren't sufficient for the lab to assess) came back negative and a colposcopy and biopsy only showed erosion and inflammation I have just undergone cold coagulation treatment of the cervix. It hadn't occurred to me before but I wonder how many women with prolactinomas also suffer with cervical abnormalities and if they are directly related. Up until two years ago my prolactinoma had no real affect on my everyday life and I felt fine but over the last two years I have felt constantly tired, my immunity is low, I'm anxious all the time and over the last 6 months I've also been rapidly putting on weight and I have had very disturbed sleep and generally felt quite low. I am now wondering if I have Cushing's syndrome as my cortisol levels have been high for the last couple of years and my endocrinologist said they were through the roof when I saw him two weeks ago. He has ordered a repeat blood test for cortisol levels but he told me that he thinks it's my stress levels causing it to rise and that I need to see a counsellor because I must be suffering depression with levels that high! I don't feel depressed and I'm sure I would know if I was? Do you know if it is possible for the prolactinoma that I have had for 12 years to cause Cushing's syndrome or would there need to be an additional tumour to cause that? Thanks again for your informative post and I really hope your health issues improve.

Kind regards

Helen

JR Krishna from India on July 13, 2013:

Sorry to hear that you have two cancers.

At the same time I am happy to see your fighting spirit,

Lisa (author) from Central USA on March 02, 2012:

Thank you so much for the compliment. I hope it may help someone else. Have a good day