lab tech holding a vial with blood

Which Lab Tests Can Detect Pituitary Tumors?

It is vital to detect pituitary tumors at an early stage.1 These tumors are generally benign, although they might create hormonal issues. Doctors employ a particular blood test to evaluate a hormone known as prolactin. Prolactin levels that are excessively high may indicate the presence of a pituitary tumor, known as a prolactinoma. This tumor can alter hormone levels and create a variety of health concerns. The blood test enables doctors to detect malignant cancers early on, allowing them to be treated immediately and preventing worse complications. This demonstrates why early testing is so important for health.

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Early diagnosis of pituitary tumors is very important for successful treatment and care, and laboratory testing plays an important part in this process. Pituitary tumors, while generally benign, can have a substantial impact on hormonal balance and overall health because they affect the pituitary gland, which is a crucial regulator of important hormones in the body.

lab tech holding a vial with blood

Lab testing can give important hints about the presence of a pituitary tumor by detecting abnormal hormone levels. This early detection, made possible by laboratory testing, is very important because it allows for timely action, perhaps delaying the progression of symptoms and avoiding consequences associated with malignant tumors.

Male and Female Hormone Lab Test

The Prolactin test is a subtest of a Male and Female Hormone Lab Test that can detect pituitary tumors. Prolactin is a hormone generated by the pituitary gland, and high levels of it in the blood might indicate a pituitary tumor, especially a prolactinoma. Prolactinomas are benign pituitary tumors that generate an excess of prolactin.

The pituitary gland, a tiny gland near the base of the brain, produces the hormone prolactin.2 This hormone is generally used to promote breast milk production following delivery. However, it is present in both men and women and serves a variety of additional functions in the body.

Pituitary tumors are abnormal growths in the pituitary gland. A prolactinoma is a frequent form of pituitary tumor that secretes an excess of prolactin.

Direct Production by Tumors

Prolactinomas generate prolactin at excessively high levels in the bloodstream. Doctors can detect these tumors by evaluating the amount of prolactin.

Symptoms Associated with High Prolactin

Elevated prolactin levels might result in a variety of symptoms.3 In women, it might cause irregular menstrual cycles or galactorrhea (the production of breast milk when not nursing). In males, it may result in erectile dysfunction or diminished libido.

Indirect Effects

A non-prolactin producing pituitary tumor may push against the pituitary stalk (the connective tissue between the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus), resulting in elevated prolactin levels. This is because the hypothalamus generates dopamine, which generally suppresses prolactin release. Compression of the stalk lowers dopamine’s inhibitory function, resulting in increased prolactin production.

Elevated prolactin levels detected by a blood test may warrant additional research. However, a prolactin test alone cannot determine the presence of a tumor. If elevated prolactin levels are detected:

Further Tests

Additional hormone testing may be performed to ensure the pituitary gland’s proper function.


An MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan of the brain is often used to visually confirm the existence of a pituitary gland tumor.


Early diagnosis of pituitary tumors by laboratory studies is very important. Because these tumors can disturb the delicate hormonal balance regulated by the pituitary gland, early detection is critical for avoiding severe health issues. Timely and reliable lab testing allows healthcare practitioners to detect pituitary tumors in their early stages, considerably improving prognosis and treatment results. It enables actions that can halt the course of symptoms and lower the likelihood of long-term consequences.

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Lab Testing - Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it important to do lab tests occasionally?

It is important to do lab tests occasionally because they can provide valuable information about an individual's health and help to identify potential health issues early on. Lab tests can measure a wide range of factors, including blood count, cholesterol levels, liver and kidney function, and hormone levels, and can provide insight into an individual's overall health and wellness. Additionally, lab tests can help to diagnose and monitor the progression of certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, and can help to identify any potential health risks or concerns. By doing lab tests occasionally, individuals can take proactive steps to maintain their health and wellbeing and reduce the risk of potential health problems in the future.

What does a routine blood test cover?

A routine blood test is used to check for a range of things, including your blood count and the levels of certain chemicals and substances in your blood. Blood tests can also be used to check how well certain organs, such as your liver and kidneys, are functioning.

How is a blood sample collected for lab testing?

A blood sample for lab testing is typically collected through a process called venipuncture, which involves inserting a small needle into a vein to draw blood. This is usually done on the inside of the elbow or the back of the hand.

What is the cost of a lab test?

In general, the cost of a lab test can range from a few dollars to several hundred dollars. It is always best to consult with your doctor or healthcare provider to get an accurate estimate of the cost of a lab test.

Read More: Lab Testing FAQ


[1] Crosby D, Bhatia S, Brindle KM, Coussens LM, Dive C, Emberton M, Esener S, Fitzgerald RC, Gambhir SS, Kuhn P, Rebbeck TR, Balasubramanian S. Early detection of cancer. Science. 2022 Mar 18;375(6586):eaay9040. doi: 10.1126/science.aay9040. Epub 2022 Mar 18. PMID: 35298272.;

[2] Freeman ME, Kanyicska B, Lerant A, Nagy G. Prolactin: structure, function, and regulation of secretion. Physiol Rev. 2000 Oct;80(4):1523-631. doi: 10.1152/physrev.2000.80.4.1523. PMID: 11015620.;

[3] Majumdar A, Mangal NS. Hyperprolactinemia. J Hum Reprod Sci. 2013 Jul;6(3):168-75. doi: 10.4103/0974-1208.121400. PMID: 24347930; PMCID: PMC3853872.;