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Radiation therapy of pituitary adenomas

Jay S Loeffler, MD
Helen A Shih, MD
Section Editor
Peter J Snyder, MD
Deputy Editor
Kathryn A Martin, MD


Pituitary adenomas are benign tumors that arise from the cells of the anterior pituitary gland. Primary treatment is usually surgery or pharmacologic treatment. When initial treatment with these interventions fails, or when there is a recurrence, radiation therapy should be considered.

Current radiation therapy employs more sophisticated imaging and targeting techniques than were previously available, but most published papers, which are based on retrospective series, report results using older techniques. The newer techniques offer the promise of reducing the incidence and severity of side effects. The relatively long time required for control of hormonal hypersecretion and the subsequent development of hypopituitarism have limited more widespread use of radiation therapy.

The common forms of radiation therapy for pituitary adenomas and their efficacy and side effects will be discussed here. More detailed discussions of pituitary adenoma treatment are found separately.

(See "Treatment of gonadotroph and other clinically nonfunctioning adenomas".)

(See "Overview of the treatment of Cushing's syndrome".)

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Literature review current through: Oct 2017. | This topic last updated: May 19, 2017.
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