Is a stable or decreasing prolactin level in a patient with prolactinoma a surrogate marker for lack of tumor growth?

Abdulrahman G. Alkabbani, Sann Y. Mon, Betul Hatipoglu, Laurence Kennedy, Charles Faiman, Robert J. Weil, Amir H. Hamrahian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The optimal interval for follow-up imaging of patients with prolactinomas is unclear. We wish to determine the likelihood of tumor enlargement in patients with prolactinomas who have a stable or reduced prolactin (PRL) level over time, whether or not they are treated with a dopamine agonist (DA). We identified 80 patients with prolactinomas (34 men, 46 women) who had at least two paired sets of serum PRL levels and pituitary MRIs, 3 or more months apart. Patients with hyperprolactinemia due to drug or stalk effects were excluded. The median (range) age was 45 (25-77) years. Sixty-three patients (78.8 %) were treated with DA. PRL levels (ng/mL) at the initial and latest sets were 114 (0.3-15,732) and 16 (0.3-1,204), respectively. In patients with identifiable tumors, the maximum tumor diameters (mm) at the initial and latest MRI studies were 12.5 (2-60) and 12.5 (2-39) respectively, with an interval of 2.9 (0.3-9.7) years. Sixty percent of patients (n = 48) had a macroadenoma. Forty-two (52.5 %) patients had either disappearance of the tumor (n = 22) or reduction (n = 20) in tumor size. In the remainder, tumor size was stable in 35 but increased in 3 patients. One of these patients, observed off therapy had a concomitant rise in PRL level. The other 2 had evidence of pituitary hemorrhage with no PRL increase. Tumor growth in prolactinoma patients with a stable or decreasing PRL level, regardless of size, is a rare event. Repetitive pituitary imaging in these patients may not be warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-102
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • MRI
  • Prolactin
  • Prolactinoma
  • Tumor size

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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