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Cedars-Sinai Presents Educational Program on Pituitary Disorders for Patients and Families

Pituitary Patient Awareness Day, Sept. 28 in Huntington Beach, Will Feature Presentations by Experts in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Complex Neuroendocrine Disorders

Los Angeles - Sept. 4, 2014 – Disorders of the pituitary gland often cause gradual onset of challenging and difficult-to-manage symptoms, and it is not uncommon for patients to consult doctor after doctor in search of an accurate diagnosis and the hope of treatment.

In a one-day conference in Huntington Beach on Sept. 28, pituitary experts from Cedars-Sinai will provide an update for patients and their families on the most recent advances in the diagnosis and treatment of pituitary disorders. Patients will be able to engage in discussions and Q&A sessions with the faculty, who are well-known for their expertise, excellent patient care and innovative approach to treatment.

The first topic, pituitary surgery, will be presented by Adam Mamelak, MD, professor of neurosurgery and co-director of the Cedars-Sinai Pituitary Center. He is one of a few neurosurgeons who use an endoscope – a camera lens at the tip of a long tube – and minimally invasive tools to remove tumors near the pituitary gland. The scope fits through a nostril and provides a panoramic view of the surgical site. Compared to similar operations using different tools, this approach typically results in very little tissue damage, minimal pain and no visible scars.

Anat Ben-Shlomo, MD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, will discuss recent advances in treating Cushing’s disease, a relatively rare disease that often remains undiagnosed for years because the symptoms are nonspecific; doctors may treat one manifestation after another before eventually putting the whole picture together. Ben-Shlomo and the other physicians participating in the conference are involved in research programs seeking to better understand mechanisms leading to pituitary disorders and working to develop new therapies.

Vivien Bonert, MD, professor of medicine, clinical director of the Cedars-Sinai Pituitary Center and a course director for the conference, will present the latest information on acromegaly, a disorder caused by increased growth hormone production. This condition commonly begins during middle age and often results from the presence of a benign tumor of the pituitary gland. Enlargement of the hands and feet is one of many gradually appearing signs and symptoms.

Hypopituitarism – the reduction or absence of one or more pituitary hormones – will be addressed by Odelia Cooper, MD, assistant professor in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism. When a pituitary hormone is lacking, the gland or organ controlled by that hormone will fail to properly function. Hypopituitarism can be caused by any of several conditions, and symptoms can vary widely, depending on the affected hormones.

Ning-Ai Liu, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, will talk about hyperprolactinemia – an excess of the hormone prolactin in the blood of women who are not pregnant and men. Pituitary tumors called prolactinomas are among several causes of this condition.

Tools for coping with a pituitary disorder will be presented by Catherine Jonas, a licensed marriage and family therapist and a board-certified expert in traumatic stress.

Shlomo Melmed, MD, senior vice president, dean of the Cedars-Sinai medical faculty and an international authority on pituitary medicine, is course director. Melmed, the Helene A. and Philip E. Hixon Chair in Investigative Medicine, leads research that investigates molecular mechanisms and new treatments for pituitary and other endocrine tumors and disorders.

Pituitary Patient Awareness Day will be at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 28. The conference is free and open to the public and includes a continental breakfast and box lunch. Registration is required. To register or find out more, including driving directions and parking suggestions, call 1-800-CEDARS-1 (1-800-233-2771) or visit www.cedars-sinai.edu/neuroconferences.