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Metastasis to the pituitary gland is unusual, and occurs most often in patients with carcinomas of the breast or lung. Despite its propensity for spread to the brain, metastatic melanoma has rarely been described within the sella.
We report two cases of malignant melanoma pathologically confirmed within the pituitary, both metastatic from a primary site on the chest wall. In each patient, transsphenoidal resection of the tumor was incomplete and each received local radiotherapy after surgery.
One patient recurred quickly and developed brain metastasis as well. He died four months after resection of the pituitary metastasis, but the second patient survived six months without recurrence. As intrasellar metastasis portends widespread systemic disease and may be synchronous with parenchymal brain metastasis, survival in such patients is limited regardless of adjunctive therapy.
Such cases are likely to arise more commonly in future due to the increasing incidence of melanoma. Identifying them by imaging alone is difficult due to inconsistent signal characteristics on MRI (as shown by these cases) and the confusion introduced by any associated intratumoral hemorrhage.
Although the benefits of radiotherapy for pituitary adenomas are well-documented, post-irradiation sarcomas of the sella are rarely seen, with only 20 cases (mainly of fibrosarcoma) reported in the medical literature.
We describe a case of post-irradiation sarcoma five years after surgery followed by external-beam irradiation for an extensive and locally invasive growth hormone-secreting tumor. The patient was subsequently given pegvisomant, an antagonist of growth hormone receptor, to control symptoms of growth hormone excess.
The patient underwent transsphenoidal resection of the recurrent tumor, followed by adjuvant chemotherapy. This led to significant relief in the patient's symptoms including radiological evidence of tumor shrinkage, but the tumor regrew when, owing to dose-limiting toxicity, chemotherapy was stopped.
Post-irradiation sarcomas of the pituitary are well-recognized but rare. They should be suspected in patients following sellar irradiation who show abrupt onset of new symptoms and appropriate radiological findings, and such tumors may respond to cytotoxic chemotherapy.
P53 expression and increased MIB-1 proliferation index have been shown to correlate with invasive behavior in pituitary adenomas. The purpose of this study was to determine whether these indices could be used to predict a higher likelihood of recurrence in clinically nonfunctional pituitary adenomas and thus guide adjuvant therapy.
Fifty-one clinically nonfunctional pituitary adenomas were selected from the database at the Vancouver Hospital and Health Sciences Center between the years 1990-1998. Included were 32 nonrecurrent and 19 recurrent adenomas.
The mean initial labelling index for p53 in nonrecurrent tumours was 0.38% (0-1.58%), while it was 0.46% (0-3.65%) for recurrent adenomas. The mean initial MIB-1 index for nonrecurrent tumours was 1.63% (0.08-9.36%), while for recurrent tumours it was 1.92% (0-7.76%). The percentage of p53 positive adenomas was 66% for nonrecurrent tumours and 68% for recurrent tumours. None of the differences in the labelling indices between the recurrent and nonrecurrent groups was statistically significant. As 12 patients (38%) in the nonrecurrent group had undergone radiotherapy as initial adjuvant therapy after surgery and none of the recurrent group had done so, patients who did not receive radiotherapy in the nonrecurrent group were analyzed separately. Again, none of the differences in the labelling indices between the recurrent and nonrecurrent groups was statistically significant when the effect of radiotherapy was removed from the analysis.
The results demonstrate no statistical difference in the p53 or MIB-1 labelling indices between recurrent and nonrecurrent nonfunctional pituitary adenomas. Concern should be raised in attaching too much clinical significance to these labelling indices, especially with respect to p53 as a predictor of the clinical behavior of nonfunctional pituitary adenomas.
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