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Brain and Pituitary Tumors

What is a brain tumor?

A brain tumor is a mass of abnormal cells in the brain that grow and multiply uncontrollably. There are over 150 different types of brain tumors that fall into two main groups – primary and metastatic. Primary tumors start forming in the brain and surrounding tissue and can either be malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous). Metastatic tumors are malignant tumors that form somewhere else in the body, such as the colon or breast, and spread to the brain.

The cause of most brain tumors is unknown, but risk factors for brain tumors include radiation exposure to the brain, inherited conditions like neurofibromatosis or a virus like Epstein-Barr.

Common brain tumor symptoms

Symptoms of brain tumors vary depending on the type of tumor, and may include:

  • Altered mental function
  • Clumsiness
  • Confusion
  • Headaches, especially morning headaches that go away after vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Weakness

How are brain tumors diagnosed?

One or more of these tests may be used:

What is a pituitary tumor?

A pituitary tumor is an abnormal growth in the pituitary gland, which is a small, kidney bean shaped gland located at the base of the brain. Although the pituitary gland weighs less than a gram, it regulates the release of hormones throughout the entire body.

Common pituitary tumor symptoms

  • Changes in vision
  • Fatigue
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Nipple discharge
  • Additional symptoms

How are pituitary tumors diagnosed?

A variety of blood and urine tests, as well as imaging tests, may be performed to diagnose pituitary tumors. The most common tests may include:

  • MRI
  • Vision test
  • Hormone tests through blood or urine

How are brain and pituitary tumors treated?

Because brain and pituitary tumors grow at different rates and their effects vary widely, treatment may begin with a monitoring period to determine if and how the tumor is growing, shrinking or remaining the same.

Treatment of brain tumors may include:

Pituitary tumors do not spread but may need to be removed through surgery to avoid pressure on surrounding nerves and blood vessels. Some patients may not need surgery if drug therapy shrinks their pituitary tumor.

For brain and pituitary tumors, treatment is more successful when tumors are caught early. The surgeons at REX Neurosurgery & Spine Specialists can help you decide on the treatment that is best for you. They are trained in the latest treatments and techniques and are experienced in diagnosing and treating brain, spine and peripheral nerve disorders and disease. To make an appointment at REX Neurosurgery & Spine Specialists, call (919) 784-1410.


To learn more about brain and pituitary tumors:

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