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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 well-being.
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.