Non-functioning pituitary adenoma (NFPA) is a neuroendocrine tumor that is a non-metastatic tumor of the pituitary.
The pituitary is an endocrine, or hormone-producing, gland that is located at the base of the brain. This gland – the master regulator of endocrine function – plays a critical role in the human body, taking signals from the brain to produce hormones that regulate various functions of the body, including the other endocrine glands that produce their own hormones. Tumors of the pituitary can be functioning or non-functioning. Non-functioning tumors arise from gonadotroph cells in the pituitary and account for 30% of all pituitary adenomas.
Non-functioning pituitary adenoma (NFPA) is a rare, slow-growing, non-metastatic tumor of the pituitary. These NFPA can result in life-altering and potentially life-threatening consequences for patients because they can begin to compress surrounding areas and impact function. NFPA typically grows slowly, and medical treatment is typically not sought until the tumors become quite large and impact function.
Currently, there are no approved medical therapies to treat NFPA and treatment is limited to transsphenoidal surgery (TSS), which is performed through the nose and sinus passage, to remove the tumor, and/or radiation to halt tumor growth. These two treatment options, however, come with serious and high-risk consequences and are often ineffective in the longer-term. It is estimated that approximately 5,000 TSS are performed each year in the U.S. to treat patients with NFPA and 40-50% of these tumors regrow within the first 5 years after surgery. In addition to these interventions, patients often require a complex set of medications to manage the endocrine disruption and other symptoms caused by the tumors and side effects of TSS and radiation. NFPA invariably re-grow, impacting a patient’s quality of life with repeated invasive procedures.
Patients typically visit multiple specialists on the road to a diagnosis and require a multidisciplinary care team including endocrinologists, neurosurgeons and other patient and symptom-specific specialists after diagnosis and initial surgery.