A possible association between ionizing radiation and pituitary adenoma: A descriptive study

Yoav Juven, Siegal Sadetzki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND. Despite the recognition of ionizing radiation as a causal risk factor for a variety of solid tumors (including brain tumors), to date, such an association with pituitary adenoma (PA) has not been demonstrated. METHODS. To evaluate a possible association between past exposure to radiation and the occurrence of PA, the authors reviewed about 4900 medical records of patients who had been irradiated in childhood for tinea capitis. An additional search for patients was performed using the Israel Cancer Registry. The average radiation dose to the pituitary gland was estimated as 0.56 grays, and, for all patients, a meticulous validation of the irradiation was performed. RESULTS. A group of 16 patients who developed symptomatic PA after childhood exposure to radiotherapy were identified. Overall, the clinical and demographic characteristics of these patients were similar to other series reported in the literature. There was an apparently high rate of second primary tumors (25%), all of them in the irradiated area, diagnosed among this group. The methodologic issues that limit the demonstration of a possible association between radiation and PA and the epidemiologic and experimental findings in the literature are discussed. CONCLUSIONS. In view of the ample amount of evidence identifying low-dose ionizing radiation as a risk factor for a number of intracranial tumors as well as for tumors arising in endocrine organs, a radiation immunity of the pituitary gland is difficult to accept. Hence, the authors suggest that this series should be considered as preliminary observation that supports the role of ionizing radiation in the development of this tumor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-403
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - 15 Jul 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain tumors
  • Ionizing radiation
  • Pituitary adenoma
  • Tinea capitis


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