Prolactinomas are the most common hormone-secreting pituitary tumors. It is a noncancerous (benign) pituitary tumor that produces a hormone called prolactin. This results in too much prolactin in the blood. These occur most commonly in people under age 40. They are about five times more common in women than in men, but are rare in children. Larger tumors are more common in men. They tend to occur at an older age. The tumor can grow to a large size before symptoms appear.
Pathophysiology: Tumor formation is due to neoplastic transformation of anterior pituitary lactotrophs, resulting in excess synthesis and secretion of prolactin (PRL). Linkage to aryl hydrocarbon-interacting protein gene (AIP) mutation has been identified in some families with prolactinoma and in childhood-onset pituitary adenomas.
Treatment: Prolactinomas can usually be treated successfully with medication alone. Medication lowers the prolactin level in the blood substantially, often to normal, and also usually reduces adenoma size. However, a minority of these adenomas do not respond to medication and must be treated with surgery or, less commonly, radiation therapy.