Question: how does a prolactinoma start to occur and what can happen if you get one?

  1. I’ve never heard of a prolactinoma before so I had to look it up. It is a benign tumour (won’t spread to other parts of the body) which grows on the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is a pea sized area at the back and bottom of your brain. It’s important for secreting hormones which regulate things like growth, blood pressure, the amount of water in the body, energy production by cells and sexual development.

    One of the hormones produced by the pituitary is prolactin. Prolactin has a number of effects on the body but is most known for its role in lactation (breastfeeding). A prolactinoma causes excess production of prolactin, leading to changes in fertility and milk secretion.

    It’s not really known what causes a prolactinoma. Evidence suggests that it is not inherited, so it must be caused by damage to the cells of the pituitary during a person’s lifetime. Damaging the cells leads to changes in the DNA of the cell, making it grow and copy itself when it should die.

    Prolactinoma can be treated with drugs which decrease the amount of prolactin produced, or surgery to reduce the size of the tumour. People usually don’t die because of a prolactinoma, but the symptoms can be unpleasant.


  2. Yep, I never heard of that either. Aimee’s description looks clear and comprehensive though.


  3. I have no idea of what a prolactinoma is or isn’t. The internet tells me that it is a type of cancer, but if you already knew that, you know heaps more than us!