Context: Prevalence data are important for assessing the burden of disease on the health care system; data on pituitary adenoma prevalence are very scarce.
Objective: The objective of the study was to measure the prevalence of clinically relevant pituitary adenomas in a well-defined population.
Design: This was a cross-sectional, intensive, case-finding study performed in three regions of the province of Liège, Belgium, to measure pituitary adenoma prevalence as of September 30, 2005.
Setting: The study was conducted in specialist and general medical practitioner patient populations, referral hospitals, and investigational centers.
Methods: Three demographically and geographically distinct districts of the province of Liège were delineated precisely using postal codes. Medical practitioners in these districts were recruited, and patients with pituitary adenomas under their care were identified. Diagnoses were confirmed after retrieval of clinical, hormonal, radiological, and pathological data; full demographic and therapeutic follow-up data were collected in all cases.
Results: Sixty-eight patients with clinically relevant pituitary adenomas were identified in a population of 71,972 individuals; the mean (+/- sd) prevalence was 94 +/- 19.3 cases per 100,000 population (95% confidence interval, 72.2 to 115.8). The group was 67.6% female and had a mean age at diagnosis of 40.3 yr; 42.6% had macroadenomas and 55.9% underwent surgery. Prolactinomas comprised 66% of the group, with the rest having nonsecreting tumors (14.7%), somatotropinomas (13.2%), or Cushing's disease (5.9%); 20.6% had hypopituitarism.
Conclusion: The prevalence of pituitary adenomas in the study population (one case in 1064 individuals) was more than 3.5-5 times that previously reported. This increased prevalence may have important implications when prioritizing funding for research and treatment of pituitary adenomas.