Some endocrine tumours will affect the function of the gland causing hormonal changes, but many will cause no symptoms.
In the case of a thyroid tumour, a lump may be noticeable visibly or by touch, with no other obvious symptoms. However, it can also cause changes in hormone levels resulting in symptoms of hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
The pituitary gland is a pea-sized organ that sits directly beneath the brain. A pituitary tumour can result in either too much or too little hormone production which can lead to symptoms such as sexual dysfunction, depression, abnormal growth and fertility issues. A large pituitary tumour may also press on the nerve connecting the eyes and the brain, causing vision changes.
The adrenal glands are located above the kidneys and produce hormones that help maintain metabolism and distinguish male and female sexual and physical characteristics. An adrenal tumour can cause unusual weight changes, abnormal hair growth and a lowered sex drive.
The pancreas plays a crucial role in controlling blood sugar levels through the production of insulin. Pancreas tumours can cause an overproduction of insulin and other hormones, which can negatively impact blood sugar levels causing a number of symptoms such as blurred vision, headaches, anxiety and feeling faint.
Specialist blood tests and imaging are used to make a diagnosis of an endocrine tumour and identify if it’s cancerous or non-cancerous. Blood tests can also detect whether a tumour is affecting hormone production.