A pituitary tumor may be treated with drug therapy, surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy, depending on the type of pituitary tumor and symptoms it is causing, explains the National Cancer Institute. Drug therapy is usually aimed at correcting hormonal imbalances resulting from the tumor.
A pituitary tumor can be either nonfunctioning, meaning it doesn't cause excess hormone production, or functioning, meaning it produces too much of one or several hormones, states the National Cancer Institute. Treatment of nonfunctioning tumors usually involves surgical removal if deemed necessary, followed by radiation therapy if the tumors return. Transsphenoidal surgery, which is performed through the nose, is preferable when possible to craniotomy, which is a more invasive procedure that involves the temporary removal of a portion of the skull. Drug therapy is often useful in stopping functioning tumors from producing excess amounts of hormones, such as prolactin, adrenocorticotropic hormone, growth hormone and thyroid-stimulating hormone.
There are three main types of pituitary tumors: benign pituitary adenomas, invasive pituitary adenomas and pituitary carcinomas, notes the National Cancer Institute. A benign pituitary adenoma is noncancerous and slow-growing, and it does not spread outside of the pituitary gland. An invasive pituitary adenoma is also noncancerous but can spread to the sinus cavity or skull. Pituitary carcinomas, which make up only a very small percentage of pituitary tumors, are cancerous.