Pituitary tumors, most of which are noncancerous and nonspreading, involve abnormal growths on the pea-sized pituitary gland that controls other hormone-producing glands crucial to regulating growth, reproduction, blood pressure, and other functions.

Symptoms range from none to headaches, heart problems, unintended weight changes, vision loss, irregular menstruation, sexual dysfunction, and other conditions, depending on whether the tumor is hormone-producing and whether it’s large enough to put pressure on the gland itself and surrounding tissue.

The exact cause of pituitary tumors isn’t yet known, but in some cases a family history of hereditary conditions such as multiple endocrine neoplasia, type I, may be a risk factor. Treatment depends on aspects such as the tumor’s type, size, and extent of intrusion in the brain and can range from no treatment needed to medication, surgery, radiation therapy, hormone replacement, or a combination.