The pituitary gland is the size of a pea and situated in a bony hollow beneath the base of the brain just behind the bridge of the nose. It is often described as the master gland as it controls all the other hormone glands including the thyroid, adrenals (which produce hormones essential to life), the ovaries and testicles (for sex and reproduction) and growth hormones. Because pituitary disorders are relatively rare, and many symptoms are non-specific, diagnosis is often slow, simply because a GP will see so few cases during the course of his or her career. Even when diagnosed, many patients remain isolated and distressed by their disorder and find that their quality of life is greatly diminished.

Most pituitary disorders are caused by a benign tumour which necessitates surgery and, in many instances, radiotherapy. This treatment usually results in the patient requiring specialist monitoring and a life-long dependence on a range of pituitary replacement drugs. Long-term problems including fatigue, sight loss or impairment, constant headaches, kidney malfunctions, and changes in body shape. In addition, the hormonal changes frequently cause psychological and psychiatric problems. Many patients will not know of others with the same illness and many carers will have no-one with whom to share their problems . As these illnesses are long-term it is very traumatic to have to cope alone, either as a patient or as a carer.

Information Courtesy of
The Pituitary Foundation
PO Box 1944
Bristol
BS99 2UB

Phone/fax: 0845 450 0375
Email: helpline@pituitary.org.uk
A comprehensive website is being developed and will be launched in mid-October. www.pituitary.org.uk

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