Types of Pituitary Tumors

Types of Pituitary Tumors


Nonfunctional Adenomas (Null Cell Adenomas)
These are the most common type of pituitary tumors. They do not make excess hormones, but they grow. People often do not have any symptoms until the tumor reaches a certain size. Then, it may cause headaches and trouble with vision. In some cases, large tumors put pressure on nearby pituitary cells. This can reduce hormone production and lead to symptoms.


Functional pituitary tumors produce excess hormones. The symptoms they cause depend on the specific hormones they make.

Prolactin-Producing Tumors (Prolactinomas)
These common benign tumors produce too much prolactin. They may cause headaches and vision issues. In females, they can also cause irregular or stopped menstrual periods. These tumors can also cause females to make breastmilk, even if they are not breastfeeding or pregnant. In males, these tumors may cause erectile dysfunction or a reduced sex drive. Males may also have enlarged breasts, a low sperm count or less body hair.

Adrenocorticotropic Hormone-Secreting (ACTH) Tumors
These tumors produce too much ACTH. This hormone tells the adrenal gland to make glucocorticoids. These are steroids that affect metabolism. They slow down the immune system, and reduce redness and inflammation. Over time, excess ACTH can weaken your bones. This may lead to Cushing syndrome. This disease causes fat to build up in your body. You may have the following symptoms:

  • A rounder face
  • A fatty hump between your shoulders
  • Excess fat in your neck, back, abdomen and chest
  • Thinner arms and legs
  • Purple-colored stretch marks
  • High blood pressure

Growth Hormone-Producing Tumors
These tumors make too much growth hormone, which can cause acromegaly. This condition is marked by enlarged hands and feet, heavy sweating and excess body hair. It may speed up growing in children and teens or cause them to become too tall.

Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone-Producing Tumors

These tumors produce too much thyroid-stimulating hormone. This can cause the thyroid to become more active. It may cause weight loss, a fast heartbeat and sweating. This condition is often only diagnosed once treatment for a suspected overactive thyroid fails to work.

Gonadotroph Adenomas
These rare tumors release hormones that stimulate the ovaries or testes.