What a Prolactinoma Is and What You Need to Know If You Have One

What a Prolactinoma Is and What You Need to Know If You Have One

A benign pituitary tumour that produces the hormone prolactin is known as a prolactinoma. Although not life-threatening, these tumours can lead to difficulties with conception and vision. Medication is used to treat the majority.

Your body produces numerous hormones through the pituitary gland, which is impacted by pituitary tumours.

In the US, more than 10,000 pituitary tumours are diagnosed by medical professionals annually. Most of these tumours are benign, meaning they are not malignant.

Learn more about prolactinomas, their symptoms, and diagnosis and treatment options by reading on.

What is a prolactinoma?

A benign tumour that affects the pituitary gland is called a prolactinoma. The pituitary gland, which produces prolactin, thyroid-stimulating hormone, and growth hormone, is located at the base of the brain.

Of all pituitary tumours, around 40% are caused by prolactinomas. These tumours produce excessive amounts of the prolactin hormone.

The hormone that stimulates the production of milk during pregnancy and lactation is called prolactin. An excess of prolactin in the body might cause health problems.

Physicians categorise prolactinomas based on their dimensions:
  • The most prevalent kind, known as microprolactinomas, have a diameter of less than 10 millimetres (mm).
  • A macroproliferative lesion has a diameter of at least 10 mm.
  • The diameter of giant prolactinomas is greater than 40 mm.

What are the symptoms of prolactinoma?

Numerous negative health outcomes might result from elevated prolactin levels. Certain symptoms may vary based on your sexual orientation.

As per the research conducted in 2022, among the symptoms that females may experience include irregular or nonexistent periods and improper production of breast milk. Men can have erectile dysfunction.

Low libido and problems conceiving are two other possible indications of elevated prolactin levels.

Prolactinomas may stress the tissues around them, resulting in further symptoms such as:
  • cranial nerve palsies
  • seizures
  • headache
  • vision problems

What causes a prolactinoma?

Prolactinomas' precise aetiology is uncertain. Generally speaking, DNA alterations that promote cell growth and division are the cause of tumours.

In a few cases, hereditary problems inherited from her parents may have influenced their growth. For example, pituitary tumours, many of which are prolactinomas, are found in 15% to 60% of patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1.

Prolactinomas are also more common in women than in men.

How is a prolactinoma diagnosed?

If you have higher than usual amounts of prolactin in your blood, a blood test can determine this. However, there are a lot of additional factors that might raise prolactin levels. These consist of, but are not restricted to:
  • underactive thyroid
  • kidney disease
  • pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • eating and exercise
  • stress
  • certain types of medication
Your doctor will therefore want to obtain an extensive medical history. They will inquire about your symptoms, medical history, both personal and family, and any drugs you are now taking. There will also be a physical examination.

A pituitary tumour can be confirmed with MRIs and CT scans.

What’s the treatment for prolactinoma?

Certain prolactinomas might wait to be treated, particularly if they are not causing symptoms. Rather, a physician will monitor prolactin levels and tumour size regularly using imaging and blood testing.

Dopamine agonists may be prescribed by your doctor if you require therapy for your symptoms. These drugs can lower the tumor's size and assist control prolactin levels. Cabergoline and bromocriptine (Parlodel, Cycloset) are two examples of dopamine agonists.

Your doctor may suggest surgery to remove the prolactinoma if it doesn't respond to medication. If medicine or surgery are not effective in treating prolactinomas, radiation therapy is an additional treatment option.

What’s the outlook for people with a prolactinoma?

You might need to take medicine for the rest of your life to control your prolactin levels and stop the tumour from growing if your prolactinoma responds to treatment.

If treatment is successful for at least two years and imaging tests are no longer able to identify the tumour, then some patients might be able to stop taking their medications.

The prognosis for prolactinomas is excellent overall. Usually, these tumours respond well to pharmaceutical treatment.

Thirteen individuals, or almost 12%, in a 2022 research of 107 patients with medication-treated prolactinomas experienced total tumour clearance.


Should I worry about a prolactinoma?

Prolactinomas do not pose a threat to life, although they can result in specific problems like infertility and eyesight impairments. It's crucial to seek therapy if you have prolactinoma as a result.

How is prolactinoma detected?

Headaches can also result from pressure. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) evidence of a pituitary gland mass and an elevated blood level of prolactin are used to detect prolactinomas. An increased prolactin level might also result from other problems, therefore those reasons need to be considered as well.

What level of prolactin indicates a prolactinoma?

Other pituitary hormonal alterations are also observable. Less than 20 nanograms per millilitre is considered normal for prolactin levels. A prolactinoma is typically indicated by a prolactin level greater than 150–200 nanograms per millilitre.


A benign pituitary tumour that produces the hormone prolactin is known as a prolactinoma. Overly elevated prolactin levels might cause visual problems as well as problems with conception.

Medications are usually used to treat prolactinomas. In cases where a tumour is not responding well to therapy, surgical excision of the tumour may be necessary.

Prolactinomas do not pose a hazard to life. The majority of tumours are small and treatable with medicine. Treatment for larger prolactinomas is typically more challenging.

Post a Comment