Pituitary tumours are classed as brain tumours. But they are different to most other brain tumours and are usually benign (non-cancerous).
This information should be read with our general information about brain tumours.
The pituitary gland is a small, oval-shaped gland at the base of the brain (see diagram below). It’s below the optic nerve (the nerve that leads to and from the eyes).
The pituitary gland produces hormones, which control and regulate many of the other glands in the body. These glands release hormones that help control and regulate growth and how the body works.
The pituitary gland is divided into two parts: the anterior (front) and posterior (back).
The anterior pituitary gland produces several different hormones:
- growth hormone, which controls growth
- prolactin, which stimulates the production of breast milk after childbirth
- ACTH (adrenocorticotrophic hormone), which stimulates the production of hormones from the adrenal glands
- TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone), which stimulates the production of hormones from the thyroid gland that help control growth, metabolism, and reproduction
- FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone), which stimulate the ovaries in women
- LH (leuteinising hormone), which stimulate the testes in men.
The posterior pituitary produces:
- ADH (anti-diuretic hormone), which reduces the amount of urine produced by the kidneys
- oxytocin, which stimulates the contraction of the womb during childbirth and the release of breast milk for breastfeeding.