The following is a list of terms your doctor may use when he or she discusses your pituitary tumour:

Adenoma – a benign tumour (i.e., not cancerous).

Agonist – An agonist produces an action.

Amenorrhea – Absence of menstrual cycle.

Antagonist – Acting against or blocking an action.

Apnea – Cessation of breathing, such as sleep apnea.

Bromocriptine – An example of a dopamine agonist given orally to treat acromegaly.

Cardiomyopathy – A disease of the heart muscle whereby the muscle is abnormally enlarged, thickened, and/or stiffened.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – A type of compression neuropathy (nerve damage) caused by compression and irritation of the median nerve in the wrist. The symptoms include numbness and tingling of the hand, and wrist pain.

CT or CAT scan – A type of x-ray that displays detailed pictures or cross sections of the body.

Chronic – Persisting over a long period of time.

Comorbidities – Co-existing medical conditions.

Cortisol – A hormone excreted by the adrenal glands (located on top of the kidneys). Cortisol helps the body use sugar and protein for energy and enables the body to recover from infections and stress. It is essential for life.

CVA – Cerebrovascular accident.

DDVAP® – Abbreviation for a drug called Desmopressin.

Debulking – Surgically removing as much as possible.

Diabetes mellitus – Occurs when too much sugar is in the bloodstream. The body does not produce enough or properly respond to insulin (hormone produced in the pancreas). Insulin is the hormone that helps the body use sugar to produce energy.

Diabetes Insipidus (DI) – A rare disorder of water balance caused by a deficiency of antidiuretic hormone (ADH). The kidneys are unable to reabsorb water, so large amounts of fluid are lost in the urine. Dehydration is the main concern of this condition.

Endocrine Glands – Organs that produce and release hormones. The study of endocrine glands and the hormones they produce is called endocrinology. A doctor that specializes in hormone conditions is called an endocrinologist.

Fistula – An abnormal connection between two organs or vessels that normally do not connect.

Galactorhea – Secretion of breast milk that is not associated with childrearing or nursing.

Goiter – Enlargement of the thyroid.

Glucose Tolerance Test – Testing body response to high blood glucose.

Glucocorticoids – The steroid our bodies produce to deal with metabolism and stress.

Growth Hormone – Produced by the pituitary gland, growth hormone regulates growth in children and affects protein, sugar and fat metabolism in children and adults. Excess growth hormone causes acromegaly in adults.

Gynecomastia – Breast enlargement in a man.

Hypertension – High blood pressure.

Hypothalamus – The area of the brain below the thalamus. It controls hunger, thirst and body temperature.

Hypopituitarism – A deficiency of one or more hormones produced by the pituitary.

IGF-1 (Insulin-like growth factor-1) – A hormone primarily secreted by the liver as a result of GH. It plays an important role in growth. IGF-1 can be measured in the blood and is used as a screening test for growth hormone deficiency and GH excess.

Lanreotide – A somatostatin analogue. Somatuline® Autogel® is a long-acting formulation.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) – An imaging method using a magnetic field, radio waves and a computer to form a picture that is used to identify normal and diseased tissue.

Metabolism – Chemical process within the body by which energy is produced.

Octreotide – A somatostatin analogue that is available in short- and long-acting formulations named Sandostatin® and Sandostatin® LAR®, respectively.

OGTT – Oral glucose tolerance test.

Optic chiasma – This is where the optic nerves cross. It is situated in front of the pituitary gland.

Oxytocin – Hormone responsible for uterine contraction.

Pegvisomant – This is a drug commercialized as Somavert®.

Pituitary Gland – The main endocrine gland. It is a small structure in the head. It is called the master gland because it produces hormones that control other glands and many body functions including growth.

Prolactin – Hormone associated with milk production.

Polyp – An inoffensive tumour.

Remnant – Anything remaining.

Resectable – Able to be removed.

Sella turcica – A saddle shape depression in the sphenoid bone at the base of the skull where the pituitary gland sits.

Somatostatin – Naturally occurring hormone that inhibits the growth hormone.

Somatostatin analogue – Resembles the naturally occurring somatostatin.

Somatotroph – Cells in the pituitary that produce growth hormone.

Syndrome – A group of symptoms and recognizable features associated with a specific disorder.

Transsphenoidal – Surgery through the nose and sphenoid bone. A method used for removing pituitary tumours.

Tumour – A tumour can be benign, pre-malignant or malignant. It is an abnormal growth of cells.

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Check out the true-2-me guest editorial on treatment Considerations for Acromegaly

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