Pituitary Tumor: Risk Factors

What is a risk factor?

A risk factor is anything that may increase your chance of having a disease. These are things you should know about risk factors for pituitary tumors:

  • There are very few known risk factors for these tumors.

  • Many people who get a pituitary tumor have no known risk factors.

  • Risk factors can increase a person's risk, but they don't always cause the disease.

Who is at risk for pituitary tumors?

Known risk factors for pituitary tumors are linked to inherited genetic syndromes. These are abnormal changes (mutations) in certain genes that are passed down from parent to child. If you have 1 of these syndromes in your family, you might want to talk with a healthcare provider about genetic testing.

These hereditary risks include:

  • MEN1 (multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1). This condition is caused by changes in the gene MEN1. Having MEN1 syndrome raises your risk for pituitary tumors and some other tumors. If a parent has changes to the MEN1 gene, the child has a 50% chance of getting the change passed on to them.

  • MEN4. People with this rare syndrome have a higher risk for pituitary tumors and some other tumors. MEN4 is caused by changes in the gene CDKN1B. These changes are passed down from a parent.

Other rare inherited and non-inherited genetic syndromes can also raise the risk of pituitary tumors. 

In rare cases, pituitary tumors seem to run in some families without a known genetic syndrome. 

Pituitary tumor screening

No standard screening methods are used to find pituitary tumors in people who aren't known to be at increased risk. If you have an inherited condition such as MEN1 syndrome, talk about screening with your healthcare provider. If any of your family members have MEN1 syndrome, blood tests can be done to watch for abnormal pituitary hormone levels. Regular blood testing might help find a pituitary tumor early so it can be treated right away.

Online Medical Reviewer: Kimberly Stump-Sutliff RN MSN AOCNS
Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Todd Gersten MD
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2021
© 2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions.