Sunday, June 27, 2010

Scott Hamilton: Pituitary Patient & Advocate

Ice Skater Scott Hamilton Undergoes Brain Surgery,

Olympic champ Scott Hamilton underwent brain surgery Wednesday to remove the recurrence of a benign tumor near his pituitary gland, which first appeared in 2004. "They're happy with the progress of the entry process, and now [doctors] can begin to get rid of the tumor," the figure skater's rep, Michelle Thornbury, tells PEOPLE of the procedure, which was completed late Wednesday.

Hamilton, 51, had the surgery in Boston, where he is surrounded by family, including his wife Tracie, their friends and his brother Steve. "They're all feeling the love coming from all of us," the rep says. After the surgery was complete, Hamilton's rep told PEOPLE, "Scott is resting comfortably and expected to make a full recovery. He and his family are so thankful to the doctors and surgical team for taking such good care of him and grateful to everyone for their thoughts and prayers."

He will remain in ICU for a couple days and is expected to return home next week.


Scott Hamilton undergoes surgery for recurrent brain tumor,

Craniopharyngiomas are tumors derived from pituitary gland tissues, and typically form in area above the pituitary gland. It is most common in children between 5 to 10 years old, and again in individuals over 50. It is fairly uncommon, only occurring in 2 per 100,000 people.

Craniopharyngioma causes symptoms in one of three ways:

1. Increasing the pressure on the brain (increased intracranial pressure). This causes symptoms of headache, nausea and vomiting, and decreased balance.

2. Disrupting the function of the pituitary gland. This leads to hormone imbalances which can cause growth failure and delayed puberty in children, loss of normal menstrual function or sex drive, increased sensitivity to cold,fatigue, constipation, dry skin, nausea, low blood pressure, and depression. Pituitary stalk compression can lead to diabetes insipidus(DI)- causing increased thirst and urination, and may increase prolactin levels- causing a milky discharge from the breast(galactorhea).

3. Damaging the optic nerve causing visual disturbances, and even blindness.

Treatment of craniopharyngioma is either surgical or with radiation, depending on the size and location of the tumor.


Not Again: First, Scott Hamilton Fought Off Cancer. Now the Popular Skater Is Battling a Rare Brain Tumor,, March 2005

Now Hamilton, 46, must battle craniopharyngioma, a rare, noncancerous tumor near his pituitary gland that, if left untreated, could leave him blind.


Scott is a member and advocate for the Pituitary Network Association. He appears in a short but important video on the PNA website.