Pituitary Gland Tumor: Latest Research

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 09/2013

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about the scientific research being done now to learn more about pituitary gland tumors and how to treat them. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

Doctors are working to learn more about pituitary gland tumors, ways to prevent them, how to best treat them, and how to provide the best care to people diagnosed with this disease. The following areas of research may include new options for patients through clinical trials. Always talk with your doctor about the diagnostic and treatment options best for you.

Risk factors and genetics. Researchers are looking into how and why pituitary gland tumors develop, as well as the genetics of pituitary gland tumors in the hope of finding new methods of treatment.

Surgical advances. Better methods of surgery to remove pituitary gland tumors are being studied. Even large tumors and tumors that have grown into nearby structures can now be removed with surgery. However, pituitary gland tumors that have grown into the cavernous sinus cannot usually be removed completely with surgery and may need further treatment (either medications or radiation therapy); research on these methods is ongoing.

Targeted therapy. Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets the specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to a tumor growth and survival. This type of treatment blocks the growth and spread of tumor cells while limiting damage to normal cells. For pituitary gland tumors, one targeted therapy researchers are exploring as a treatment is lapatinib (Tykerb).

Radiation therapy. Researchers are also looking at proton therapy as a treatment option. Proton therapy (also called proton beam therapy) is a type of external-beam radiation therapy that uses protons rather than x-rays. At high energy, protons can destroy tumor cells.

Supportive care. Clinical trials are underway to find better ways of reducing symptoms and side effects of current pituitary gland tumor treatments in order to improve patients’ comfort and quality of life.

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