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Some people who were treated for cancer during childhood may
develop hormone problems as a result of changes to a complex system of glands
known as the endocrine system. These glands include the pituitary, which makes
a number of hormones that are needed for your body to function well. Not enough
of these hormones can cause various health problems.
Hypopitiutarism occurs when the pituitary gland doesn’t make
enough of one or more hormones. When three or more hormones are not produced in
sufficient amounts, it is called panhypopituitarism.
Factors related to childhood cancer treatment that raise
risk for hypopituitarism include radiation to the brain and removal of the
pituitary gland. Other risk factors include infection, severe head trauma, or
lack of development of the pituitary gland from birth.
The symptoms of hypopituitarism depend on which hormones are
not being produced adequately. One or more of these hormones may be affected:
All childhood cancer survivors should have a long-term
follow-up visit every year that includes measurement of your height and weight
and assessment of your pubertal status, nutritional status, and overall
If you think you have hypopituitarism, ask your doctor to check
for it, too. If a problem is found, your doctor may refer you to a doctor who
specializes in hormone problems (an endocrinologist).
Treatment will depend on which hormones are not being made
in sufficient amount. Your endocrinologist can work with you to find treatments
that are right for you.