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A Journal on Endocrine System Diseases

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Minerva Endocrinologica 2007 September;32(3):231-6


language: English

Evolution of a prolactin-secreting pituitary microadenoma into a fatal carcinoma. A case report

Guastamacchia E. 1, Triggiani V. 1, Tafaro E. 1, De Tommasi A. 2, De Tommasi C. 2, Luzzi S. 2, Sabbà C. 3, Resta F. 3, Terreni M. R. 4, Losa M. 5

1 Unit of Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases University of Bari, Bari, Italy 2 Unit of Neurosurgery University of Bari, Bari, Italy 3 Department of Internal Medicine University of Bari, Bari, Italy 4 Department of Pathology San Raffaele Scientific Institute Vita-Salute University, Milan, Italy 5 Department of Neurosurgery San Raffaele Scientific Institute Vita-Salute University, Milan, Italy


Pituitary carcinomas are very rare tumors, nearly always presenting as widely invasive masses, although the hallmark of these lesions is the finding of distant metastases. One third of reported cases are prolactin (PRL)-secreting tumors. We report the case of a fatal pituitary carcinoma evolving within 4 years from a PRL-secreting microadenoma. A 22-year-old woman presented because of galactorrhea. Evaluation of the patient disclosed slight hyperprolactinemia and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed a 7-mm intrapituitary lesion, which responded to treatment with cabergoline. About 4 years after the first evaluation she developed sudden headache, ptosis, and diplopia in the right eye. MRI disclosed the growth of a large pituitary mass, invading the right cavernous sinus. Despite two trans-sphenoidal surgical procedures followed by gamma-knife radiosurgery, the patient showed rapid local progression of the tumor and the occurrence of new lung lesions, probably of metastatic nature. The patient died 7 months after the development of her first neurological symptoms because of tumor apoplexy and subsequent subarachnoid hemorrhage. This case represents the first documented rapid evolution from a microprolactinoma initially responding to dopamine agonists to a fatal pituitary carcinoma.

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