According to abbreviationfinder, PA stands for pituitary adenoma. If the origin of the pituitary tumor is in the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland, it is called a pituitary adenoma. The reason why such a tumor develops is unclear. However, the course of the disease is not life-threatening.
What is a pituitary adenoma?
Since a pituitary adenoma usually grows slowly, the first symptoms can sometimes take years to be noticed.
The doctor uses the term pituitary gland to describe a hormonal gland that is just the size of a cherry. This hormone is connected to the brain by a relatively thin stalk. The pituitary gland is the classic interface that connects the brain with the endocrine system and is therefore an essential factor in hormone regulation in the human body.
The pituitary gland does not contain brain tissue, so the tumor does not fall under the brain tumor category. However, treatment is provided by a neurosurgeon. The pituitary gland is divided into an anterior and a posterior lobe, with the tumor usually originating from the anterior lobe and thus a pituitary adenoma.
The tumor is relatively common; In almost every tenth autopsy, doctors discover the formation of a pituitary tumor that the patient did not notice during his lifetime. As a rule, people between the ages of 35 and 45 fall ill.
So far, the physicians have not been able to find a reason why a pituitary adenoma develops. However, the fact is that the tumor originates in the anterior lobes of the pituitary gland.
The cell does not develop normally, preventing growth, division, aging and cell death. Why a disorder occurs and then the tumor forms is not known.
In individual cases, however, a hereditary cause is sometimes a reason why the pituitary adenoma forms. The MEN -1 syndrome is often held responsible here, which has been shown to cause patients to develop a pituitary adenoma.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Since a pituitary adenoma usually grows slowly, the first symptoms can sometimes take years to be noticed. When and which signs of the disease appear depends primarily on the exact location of the tumor. First, there may be limitations in the field of vision such as half-page imaging.
Other vision problems such as double vision or blurred vision often occur . Most sufferers experience headaches in the forehead and eye area. In addition, the outer halves of the face often fall out. These symptoms can change and occur with varying degrees of intensity. The release of sex hormones can be disturbed.
Even in the early stages of a pituitary adenoma, many patients perceive a significant loss of libido. Men often have erection problems and women can experience menstrual disorders. You often notice milk coming in when you are not pregnant. In male sufferers, the breast grows and takes on a more feminine shape.
An increasing hormone deficiency can manifest itself in general exhaustion, freezing, low blood pressure or circulatory disorders. These symptoms can lead to circulatory failure under stress. With a larger untreated pituitary adenoma, common symptoms of a brain tumor such as hydrocephalus, vomiting, nausea, or muscle paralysis appear. It can also lead to blindness in one or both eyes.
Diagnosis & History
The doctor determines – with the help of imaging methods – whether it is a pituitary adenoma. Here he makes an MRI – a magnetic resonance imaging – of the patient’s head. For this purpose, the patient is administered a specific contrast medium so that the doctor can clearly see from the images whether a tumor is present or not.
If the doctor is unsure, he can have a CT – a computed tomography – made. Various blood tests also help to ensure that the doctor can be sure that it is a pituitary adenoma. The hormone level is of particular importance here. If the prolactin level is over 200 nanograms, the chance that it is a pituitary adenoma is relatively high.
A measurement of the growth hormone can sometimes be a confirmation that the patient is suffering from a corresponding tumor. Further diagnostic measures are also in the field of visual acuity testing. Many pituitary adenomas cause visual impairment, so it is advisable to check the patient’s vision.
The disease itself is not life-threatening. The pituitary adenoma grows relatively slowly, so that some people may have it who do not feel any symptoms and ultimately it is only determined at the autopsy that the patient was suffering from a pituitary adenoma. However, after the diagnosis, treatment should definitely be initiated. If left untreated, the course cannot be predicted exactly.
As a rule, a pituitary adenoma is not a life-threatening symptom. However, treatment is still required without complications. The pituitary adenoma leads to a tumor that leads to the failure of various facial functions. The affected person can no longer control various areas and suffers from severe paralysis.
Visual disturbances can also occur, so that the patient suffers from blurred vision and double vision. Increased intracranial pressure also causes severe headaches. The patient feels ill and exhausted and the resilience drops extremely. It can also lead to complete blindness or, in the worst case, cardiac arrest. Sexual disorders are not uncommon in women.
In most cases, in addition to the physical complaints, depression or other psychological complaints also occur, which have a major impact on the patient’s life and significantly reduce the quality of life. Removal of the tumor is usually only necessary if symptoms arise. There are no particular complications and the patient’s life expectancy is not reduced.
When should you go to the doctor?
People who suddenly suffer from recurring visual disturbances, headaches or circulatory problems should consult a doctor. If the symptoms are caused by a pituitary adenoma, treatment must be initiated quickly. Early therapy can slow down the growth of the adenoma and prevent complications. Women who are experiencing unusually severe menstrual cramps should speak to their gynecologist right away.
Even non-specific symptoms such as low blood pressure or freezing should be clarified promptly. If a genetic defect such as MEN-1 syndrome was found in a previous examination, a pituitary adenoma can be assumed if the symptoms mentioned occur. Affected patients should see a doctor the same day. At the latest when complications such as severe visual disturbances or migraine attacks set in, a doctor’s visit is indicated. In addition to the family doctor, a neurologist or an internist can be consulted. In the case of severe symptoms, ideally the emergency doctorcalled because there may be a serious complication which, if left untreated, can cause serious damage to health.
Treatment & Therapy
Therapy is not always necessary after the diagnosis. If the tumor is relatively small, it is sufficient for the doctor to check it regularly and check its growth. If the patient does not suffer from any symptoms, therapy is also not necessary.
However, if symptoms occur, the doctor recommends surgery and removal of the tumor. In the case of visual disturbances in particular, it is advisable for the tumor to be surgically removed. The removal is usually done through the nose. This is due to the quite favorable positioning of the tumor. If the tumor has reached an impressive size, however, the skullcap must be opened. Complete removal is not always possible.
If there are still residues after the operation, they must be monitored further (with the help of MRI scans or by checking the hormone level). If the tumor changes in size, another operation can be performed. There is also the possibility that radiation therapy will be prescribed to combat it. However, this only occurs in the rarest of cases.
Since there are no known reasons why the pituitary adenoma forms, it is also not possible to say how the tumor can be prevented. However, medical professionals advise that people should avoid unnecessary radiation as well as chemicals. A varied and healthy diet as well as avoiding alcohol and nicotine and regular exercise (thereby strengthening the immune system) are also good indications that any tumor formation can be prevented.
In the case of a pituitary adenoma, the person concerned should first and foremost see a doctor very quickly so that there are no further complications or a further deterioration of the symptoms. In the worst case, the patient may die if the pituitary adenoma is not treated. This disease cannot heal on its own.
The focus is therefore on the early detection of the disease, whereby the aftercare measures are usually severely limited. In most cases, treatment is by radiation therapy. Most patients depend on the help and support of their own family and friends in everyday life.
Furthermore, intensive and loving conversations are necessary, especially to prevent or treat mental upsets or depression. If the pituitary adenoma is to be removed by surgery, the person concerned should definitely rest after the operation and take care of their body. Efforts or stressful and physical activities should be avoided. It cannot be universally predicted whether the pituitary adenoma will lead to a reduced life expectancy for those affected.
You can do that yourself
The pituitary adenoma is one of the benign tumors and can be treated well in many cases. For the patient, a positive attitude towards life and the fundamental desire to conquer the disease are of great psychological help. As with many serious illnesses, the help of a therapist can also be used here to help cope better.
The pituitary adenoma cannot be treated by the patient himself and requires constant medical supervision and control. It is very important that the patient builds a trusting relationship with the doctor treating him and agrees to the therapy plan. Only then will the patient consistently carry out the part of the therapy that is incumbent on him and, for example, take his medication regularly and in the agreed dose. The patient can actively participate in his recovery by supporting and carrying out the necessary measures.
The patient can usually make everyday life easier by outsourcing things that are becoming increasingly difficult for him or that cause him great stress to other people. For example, domestic help can be used for a limited period of time. A healthy lifestyle generally promotes well-being. Regular light exercise in the fresh air promotes the immune system and has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system.