Radiotherapy for pituitary adenoma: Long-term outcome and sequelae

Mark W. Mccord, John M. Buatti, Eileen M. Fennell, William M. Mendenhall, Robert B. Marcus, Albert L. Rhoton, Maria B. Grant, William A. Friedman

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159 Scopus citations


Purpose: To review outcome and treatment sequelae in patients treated with external beam radiotherapy for pituitary adenomas. Methods and Materials: One hundred forty-one patients with pituitary adenomas received radiotherapy at the University of Florida and had 2-year minimum potential follow-up. One hundred twenty-one had newly diagnosed adenomas, and 20 had recurrent tumors. Newly diagnosed tumors were treated with surgery and radiotherapy (n = 98) or radiotherapy alone (n =23). Patients with recurrent tumors received salvage treatment with surgery and radiotherapy (n = 10) or radiotherapy alone (n = 10). The impact of age, sex, presenting symptoms, tumor extent, surgery type, degree of resection, hormonal activity, primary or salvage therapy, and radiotherapy dose on tumor control was analyzed. Tumor control is defined by the absence of radiographic progression and stable or decreased hormone level (in hormonally active tumors) after treatment. Effect of therapy on vision, hormonal function, neurocognitive function, life satisfaction, and affective symptoms were examined. A Likert categorical scale survey was used for assessment of neurocognitive, life satisfaction, and affective symptom status. Survey results from the radiotherapy patients were compared with a control group treated with transsphenoidal surgery alone. Multivariate analysis used the forward step-wise sequence of chi squares for the log rank test. Results: At 10 years, tumor control for the surgery and radiotherapy group (S + RT) was 95% and not statistically different (p = 0.58) than for patients treated with radiotherapy alone (RT) (90%). Patients with prolactin-and ACTH-secreting tumors had significantly worse tumor control, as did patients treated for recurrent tumors. Multivariate analysis for tumor control revealed that only young age was predictive of worse outcome (p = 0.0354). Visual function was either unaffected or improved in most patients, although four patients developed visual loss due to treatment. Hormonal function was affected adversely in 46 of the 93 patients for whom detailed hormonal information was available. Neurocognitive function evaluation revealed that patients in the S + RT group were more likely (p = 0.005) to report difficulty with memory than those in the RT-alone or S-alone groups. No significant difference in life satisfaction or affective symptoms was evident. Conclusions: Pituitary adenomas are well controlled by external beam radiotherapy, either alone or in combination with surgery. Visual symptoms often improve after treatment. Hormonal sequelae require medical intervention in many patients. Neurocognitive sequelae may be different among treatment groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-444
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number2 SUPPL.
StatePublished - Dec 1 1997


  • Adenoma
  • Adverse effects
  • Pituitary neoplasms
  • Radiotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research

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    Mccord, M. W., Buatti, J. M., Fennell, E. M., Mendenhall, W. M., Marcus, R. B., Rhoton, A. L., Grant, M. B., & Friedman, W. A. (1997). Radiotherapy for pituitary adenoma: Long-term outcome and sequelae. International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics, 39(2 SUPPL.), 437-444.