The pituitary gland is often referred to as the “master gland” in the body. This lima bean sized gland at the base of the brain is part of the endocrine system and produces and regulates many hormones that affect glands such as growth hormone (regulates body structures and weight), thyroid stimulating hormone, prolactin ( affects milk production), sex hormones,and adrenal gland production (regulates water and electrolyte balance). Disorders of the pituitary gland can cause big and little problems- and these often go undiagnosed because symptoms can be vague. These disorders include tumors that cause overproduction of hormones that affect the end-organ system or pituitary lesions that may results in underproduction of hormones. Acromegaly, Cushings Disease, Addison’s Disease can all be linked to pituitary disorders. However, the most common problem is pituitary tumors.
Pituitary tumors are usually benign (adenomas), although they can be invasive and they account for approx. 10% of all brain tumors. Pituitary carcinoma’s account for a very small percentage of pituitary tumors. However, even these benign tumors can cause problems in hormone function and can be invasive to the surrounding structures, such as the optic nerve. Treatments include surgery, radiation and a few medications. Symptoms may include: headaches, vision and behavior changes, nausea and vomiting, hormone imbalance and fatigue. Diagnosis almost always involves investigating the “why” behind presenting symptoms.
In this segment, Dr. Joseph Pinzone, a double board-certified physician who is a national expert in pituitary diseases will provide a “master class” about this “master gland.”
Dr. Joseph Pinzone
- Medical training at NYU, Columbia-Presbyterian and Mass General
- Double board certified in Internal Medicine and Endrocrinology
- Former NIH researcher on Pituitary Tumors
- Current Clinical Professor at UCLA Geffen School of Medicine
- Concierge private practice in Santa Monica, CA