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Prolactinoma
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Prolactinoma

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DIABETES AND ENDOCRINE SYSTEM

Endocrine System

Prolactinoma is a condition in which a noncancerous tumor (adenoma) in the pituitary gland in your brain overproduces the hormone prolactin. The major effect of increased prolactin is a decrease in normal levels of sex hormones — estrogen in women and testosterone in men.

Although prolactinoma isn't life-threatening, it can cause vision impairment, infertility and other effects. Prolactinoma is one of several types of tumors that can develop in your pituitary gland. Some pituitary tumors may produce hormones in excess (functioning pituitary tumors), but most don't (nonfunctioning pituitary tumors).

The pituitary gland is a small bean-shaped gland located at the base of your brain. Despite its small size, the pituitary gland influences nearly every part of your body. Its hormones help regulate important functions such as growth, blood pressure and reproduction.

Doctors often are able to effectively treat prolactinoma with medications to restore your prolactin level to normal. Surgery to remove the pituitary tumor also may be an option.

Screening and diagnosis

Blood tests can detect the overproduction of prolactin as a result of a pituitary tumor.

Your doctor may also recommend:

  • Brain imaging. Your doctor may be able to detect a pituitary tumor on an image generated by a computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of your brain.

  • Tests of your vision. Such tests can determine if growth of a pituitary tumor has impaired your sight or peripheral vision.

  • Bone imaging. In children, an X-ray of the hand and wrist can measure whether the bones are growing normally.

In addition, your doctor may refer you for more extensive testing with a doctor who specializes in treating disorders of the endocrine system (endocrinologist).

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
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Last Modified : 03/15/08 01:57 AM