Most tumors that grow on the pituitary are treated with surgery. If the tumor is large or if it is cancer, treatment is needed. If the tumors are small, they can be treated with medication alone.

Your pituitary gland is a gland about the size of a pea that hangs off the bottom of your brain and sits in a pocket of your skull called the sphenoid bone. It’s sometimes called the “master gland” because its hormones influence the release of hormones from many other glands in your body.

There are surgical treatment options for pituitary tumors.

The primary treatment for tumors on the pituitary is surgery.

These tumors are benign (not cancerous) in more than 99 percent of cases, according to the University of Virginia School of Medicine. But they can still cause problems with your hormone levels and lead to Vision problems. if the tumors push on your optic nerves.

It’s not exactly clear how prevalent these tumors are. But a nationwide Icelandic study found a prevalence of about 116 per 100,000 people.

Treatment for pituitary tumors is usually needed if they’re causing disruptive symptoms. The most common surgical techniques are called transsphenoidal surgery and craniotomy.

Transsphenoidal surgery

Transsphenoidal surgery is more often used to remove tumors from the pituitary. The surgeon can remove the tumor through a hollow space in your sphenoid bone, which is at the back of your nose.

The exact method that surgeons use to perform this technique varies, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). But it usually follows these steps:

  1. The surgeon makes an incision in the nose to make room for a new nose.
  2. They open the sphenoid bone with a small surgical instrument, and then they open the sphenoid sinus at the back of your nose. The top of this bone has a notch in it.
  3. The surgeon uses small tools and a microscope to remove the tumor.

An edward is a thin and flexible tube with a camera that surgeons sometimes use. The need to cut through the nose is avoided by using an ethnometer.


Larger tumors may need a choleotomy. The procedure is riskier for the brain because it requires a higher degree of skill, but it is usually safer for large tumors.

This technique involves a few steps.

  1. The surgeon opens the front of your skull.
  2. They carefully work beneath your brain to reach the tumor.
  3. The surgeon will remove the tumor.

It is a major procedure if you want to have your pituitary gland removed. It comes with some risks.

There are no problems with pituitary tumor surgery. If the tumor is not removed, you may need a second surgery.

Most people have a sinus headache or congestion for 1 or 2 weeks after surgery, according to the ACS.

Other potential risks include:

Your doctor will want to monitor you closely after your procedure. MRI and hormone tests are the most common follow-up tests.

If you had a tumor that was producing excess hormones, you’ll have hormone tests done within days or weeks to see if the treatment was successful.

If the remaining part of your pituitary is acting in the way that it should, you should have a blood test. You will continue to visit your doctor if the results are typical. If there are signs that the tumor has returned, you may need another surgery.

If the cancer cannot be removed during surgery, you may need radiation therapy. It is hard to predict how radiation will affect your tumor, so you will need to see your doctor for a while.

If your hormones are low, you may need to take hormones.

There are a lot of questions about pituitary tumor surgery.

How successful is pituitary tumor surgery?

According to the ACS, when transsphenoidal surgery is performed by an experienced neurosurgeon and the tumor is small, the cure rate for cancerous tumors is greater than 80 percent. The chance of a successful outcome becomes much lower if the cancer grows into nearby nerves, brain tissue, or the tissue covering your brain.

A small 2016 study found similar outcomes for tumors resected with craniotomy or transsphenoidal surgery, except with more cerebrospinal fluid leaks in the transsphenoidal surgery group.

Is hormone replacement needed following the surgery?

Hormone replacement therapy is needed if your pituitary gland does not make enough hormones, which is fairly common. The hormones you need to take depend on where the damage is.

Hormone replacement is often temporary but can be permanent. For example, Massachusetts General Hospital says cortisol levels tend to recover after 6 to 18 months. But they may never return to their typical level in some people.

How much does this surgery cost?

A small 2018 study found that the inpatient cost of transsphenoidal surgery was $22,853 and $19,736 when performed through an endoscope.

In a 2016 study, researchers estimated that the median charges per day ranged from $8,485 to $13,321 in New York state.

Most of the costs will be covered if you have health insurance. Talk to your insurance provider to find out what your out-of-pocket expenses are.

Are there alternatives to surgery?

According to the University of Virginia School of Medicine, in more than 90 percent of people with pituitary tumors that produce the hormone prolactin, medication alone can shrink the cancer. Other types of tumors are best removed with surgery.

The primary treatment for tumors in the pituitary is surgery. Most of these tumors are benign, but they can cause your body to produce hormones that can affect your health.

When a doctor performs pituitary tumors, they have high rates of success. Your surgeon can give you advice about what to expect.