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Diagnosing Prolactinomas

When considering a prolactinoma diagnosis, the doctor will ask a number of questions about a person's medical history, including questions about:
  • Current symptoms
  • Whether there is a family history of any medical problems
  • Any medicines the person is taking.
The doctor will also typically perform a physical exam, looking for any signs of a prolactinoma, and order certain tests. These tests can include:
  • Blood tests to measure prolactin and thyroid hormone levels
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Eye exam.
(Click Diagnosing Prolactinoma for more information.)

Treatment of a Prolactinoma

The goals of prolactinoma treatment are to:
  • Return prolactin secretion to normal
  • Reduce tumor size
  • Correct any visual problems
  • Restore normal pituitary function.
In the case of very large tumors, only partial achievement of these goals may be possible.
Treatment for prolactinomas can include:
  • Medications
  • Surgery.
Medications used to treat a prolactinoma include bromocriptine or cabergoline. These drugs are called dopamine agonists because they act similar to the dopamine naturally produced in the body. Dopamine is the chemical that normally inhibits the secretion of prolactin. These medicines shrink the tumor and return prolactin levels to normal in approximately 80 percent of people.
Surgery should be considered if medical therapy cannot be tolerated or if it fails to:
  • Reduce prolactin levels
  • Restore normal reproduction and pituitary function
  • Reduce tumor size.
If medical therapy is only partially successful in treating a prolactinoma, it should continue, possibly combined with surgery or radiation.
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Prolactinoma Information

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