Blacks have higher rates of pituitary adenoma
Research Activities, November 2011
Pituitary adenomas are normally benign tumors on the pituitary gland. Although they do not cause any symptoms in many cases, some patients experience hormonal and neurological problems. More than 30 years have passed since a population-based study was conducted on demographic differences in pituitary adenoma. However, a recent study by University of Iowa researchers updates knowledge about its incidence. It found that blacks have a higher incidence of the condition than other ethnic groups. Data for this study came from the Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program that covers nearly 26 percent of the U.S. population. Four-year's worth of information on 8,276 cases of pituitary adenoma (2004 to 2007) were gathered and analyzed. Incidence rates were found to increase with age. Females had a higher incidence of pituitary adenoma in early life, while males had a higher incidence in later life. Males also tended to be diagnosed with larger tumors, indicating a possible delay in diagnosis.
The highest, age-adjusted incidence rate was found for blacks (4.4 cases per 100,000), with the lowest rate observed in American Indians/Alaskan Natives (1.9 cases per 100,00). In the case of blacks, they were more likely to have their pituitary adenomas diagnosed through x-ray alone without microscopic confirmation. Although their tumors were slightly larger than those found in whites, blacks had lower rates of surgical treatment than other ethnic groups. Future studies that incorporate the SEER and Medicare databases may be able to clarify some of these findings, including this racial/ethnic treatment disparity. The study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS16094). See "Demographic differences in incidence for pituitary adenoma," by Bradley D. McDowell, Ph.D., Robert B. Wallace, M.D., Ryan M. Carnahan, Pharm.D., and others in Pituitary 14, pp. 23-30, 2011.