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Multidisciplinary Pituitary Tumor Team

The UNC Multidisciplinary Pituitary Tumor Clinic team encompasses all aspects of pituitary care. Our team of endocrinologists, neurosurgeons, otolaryngologists, radiation oncologists, neuro-radiologists, neuro-pathologists, and neuro-ophthalmologists work together to provide true multidisciplinary care for patients with pituitary tumors. Each specialist offers unique insight and expertise in their respective field.

Multidisciplinary Pituitary Tumor Clinic

Our Multidisciplinary Pituitary Tumor Clinic has improved patient care by requiring fewer appointments for our pituitary tumor patients, which leads to a faster diagnosis and treatment. Great pituitary care requires the input of several different medical and surgical specialists, and we work hard to make these visits as convenient as possible.

Offered weekly, our multidisciplinary pituitary tumor clinic provides patients with convenient access to all of their specialists on a single day. Patients can come to our clinic, receive appropriate imaging and blood tests, and then see an endocrinologist and neurosurgeon together in a shared clinic. This is especially beneficial for our patients who travel several hours to receive pituitary tumor treatment at UNC.

Pituitary Tumor Surgery - UNC Neurosurgery

Pituitary Tumor Board

Following our weekly Multidisciplinary Pituitary Tumor Clinic, a multidisciplinary pituitary conference is held for all members of the treatment team to meet and discuss their patients’ care to ensure that each patient receives the most appropriate treatment for their pituitary tumor. This allows for more than one expert opinion in each specialty.

Pituitary Tumor Symptoms and Diagnosis

The pituitary gland sits at the base of the brain and controls many important hormones throughout the body. Pituitary tumors can disrupt regular hormone production and throw off organs that are controlled by pituitary hormones. 

Pituitary tumors are common and are mostly benign (noncancerous). Pituitary tumors can often go undetected for years and never cause any symptoms. For many patients however, severe symptoms can occur and treatment by medication or surgery is needed. Symptoms of pituitary tumors include vision loss, frequent headaches, fatigue, loss of menses, loss of libido, and weight change. Each of these symptoms can be caused by other medical conditions. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, notify your primary care provider.  

Pituitary tumors can cause the pituitary gland to decrease hormone production, resulting in a medical condition called hypopituitarism, or can cause the pituitary gland to increase hormone production. Both conditions can lead to hormone dysfunction and will require treatment to regulate hormone levels in the body.

Medical imaging such as a CT scan or MRI is used to confirm the presence of a pituitary tumor and to monitor its growth. Blood work and urine tests are also used to check hormone levels that can be disrupted by a pituitary tumor.

Pituitary Tumor Treatment at UNC Hospital

UNC’s Multidisciplinary Pituitary Tumor team works together to develop the most effective treatment plan for each patient. UNC became the first team in North Carolina to perform Minimally Invasive Pituitary Surgery (MIPS) to treat pituitary tumors in 2000. Since then, this has now become standard of care in treatment of pituitary tumors.  

This approach is done through the nose, which is a natural corridor to the pituitary region. This results in less disruption of normal tissues. It is done with both the Otolaryngology and the Neurosurgery teams. 

Management of the function of the pituitary gland is essential in the care of patients with pituitary tumors. Endocrinologist Elizabeth Harris, MD and her team, focus on both the treatment of pituitary tumors that produce too much hormone (Cushing’s disease, acromegaly, prolactinoma), and on restoring normal pituitary function in patients who have lost function as a result of their tumors.

Drs. Ewend and Senior, along with colleagues Dr. Adam Zanation, Dr. Carlos Ebert and Dr. Brian Thorp in the Department of Otolaryngology, and Dr. Deanna Sasaki-Adams and Dr. Carolyn Quinsey in the Department of Neurosurgery, have become recognized experts in pituitary tumor treatment, lecturing nationally and internationally on the topic and authoring publications in several books and journals.


Why Choose UNC for Pituitary Tumor Treatment & Surgery?

We see a high volume of patients with pituitary tumors and our surgical team has performed over 1000 of these procedures, placing the University of North Carolina at the forefront of minimally invasive approaches to skull base tumors.

The UNC pituitary tumor treatment team consists of leaders in each of their respective fields, ensuring that patients will receive the highest level of care with the best possible outcome when they choose UNC for pituitary tumor treatment and surgery. 

Patients at our multidisciplinary pituitary tumor clinic will be able to be seen by every member of their treatment team during one visit to the clinic, rather than making multiple trips to UNC. This results in a faster diagnosis and treatment of pituitary tumors as well as better follow-up care. 

The years of experience and the expertise in the treatment and removal of pituitary tumors makes UNC one of the best pituitary tumor centers in the nation.

The UNC Multidisciplinary Pituitary Tumor Clinic is located in the North Carolina Cancer Hospital at UNC Hospital’s main campus in Chapel Hill, NC. If you would like to make an appointment at our clinic, please call 919-445-2410 to schedule.

Pituitary Tumor Physician Team:

Endocrinology & Metabolism

David Clemmons, MD

Elizabeth Harris, MD, FACS

Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery

Brent A. Senior, MD, FACS, FARS

Adam M. Zanation, MD

Charles S. Ebert, Jr., MD, MPH

Brian D. Thorp, MD, FACS, FARS

Department of Radiation Therapy

Colette Shen, MD, PhD

Department of Radiology

J. Keith Smith, MD, PhD

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