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Health Library : Cancer Center

 

Cancer Types - The Pituitary Gland

Anatomy of the pituitary gland

The pituitary gland is sometimes called the "master" gland of the endocrine system because it controls the functions of the other endocrine glands. The pituitary gland is no larger than a pea, and is located at the base of the brain. The gland is attached to the hypothalamus (a part of the brain that affects the pituitary gland) by nerve fibers. The pituitary gland itself consists of three sections:

  • The anterior lobe
  • The intermediate lobe
  • The posterior lobe

Functions of the pituitary gland

Each lobe of the pituitary gland produces certain hormones.

Anterior lobe:
  • Growth hormone
  • Prolactin (to stimulate milk production after giving birth)
  • ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone stimulates the adrenal glands)
  • TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone stimulates the thyroid gland)
  • FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone stimulates the ovaries and testes)
  • LH (luteinizing hormone stimulates the ovaries or testes)
Intermediate lobe:
  • MSH (melanocyte-stimulating hormone controls skin pigmentation)
Posterior lobe:
  • ADH (antidiuretic hormone is produced in the hypothalamus, stored in the pituitary gland, and increases absorption of water into the blood
    by the kidneys)
  • Oxytocin (to contract the uterus during childbirth and stimulate milk production)

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