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Alternative namesProlactinoma - females; Adenoma - secreting
DefinitionA prolactinoma is a noncancerous pituitary tumor that causes excess secretion of the hormone prolactin. Prolactin is a hormone that causes secretion of milk from the breasts during nursing. It is also involved in the control of sexual desire.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Prolactin is a hormone that induces lactation or milk formation. The size of the prolactinoma correlates with the excess prolactin level ; the larger the tumor, the higher the level of prolactin that is secreted.
Prolactinoma is the most common type of pituitary adenoma and is also referred to as a prolactin -secreting adenoma of the pituitary. These tumors account for at least 30% of all pituitary adenomas. At least half of all prolactinomas are microadenomas. Microprolactinomas are more common in women. Larger tumors, called macroprolactinomas, are more common in men. Many of the smaller tumors do not appear to progress to larger tumors.
Note: there may be no symptoms, particularly in men.
Signs and tests
In women, the symptoms of infertility, irregular menstruation, loss of sexual interest, and milk flow not related to childbirth or nursing can be improved with treatment. Men should be treated when decreased sexual drive, infertility, or impotence occur.
The outlook depends heavily on the success of medical and surgical therapies. Tests to scan for recurrence following treatment are important.
Tumor regrowth is the main complication. If untreated, tumor growth may result in permanent visual loss, including blindness, because large tumors in this area often press on the nerves involved in vision.
Calling your health care provider
See your health care provider if symptoms suggestive of prolactinoma develop.
Update Date: 2/21/2003Elaine T. Kiriakopoulos, M.D., M.Sc., Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard University, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT