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Temozolomide in the management of dopamine agonist-resistant prolactinomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

B. C. Whitelaw, D. Dworakowska, N. W. Thomas, S. Barazi, P. Riordan-Eva, A. P. King, T. Hampton, D. B. Landau, D. Lipscomb, C. R. Buchanan, J. A. Gilbert, S. J. B. Aylwin

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)877-886
Number of pages10
JournalClinical endocrinology
Issue number6
PublishedJun 2012

King's Authors


The majority of prolactinomas respond to dopamine agonist therapy, but a proportion are resistant, requiring other treatments including surgery and/or radiotherapy. Temozolomide is an oral chemotherapy agent, which has been used as a salvage therapy to treat aggressive pituitary adenomas and carcinomas, including prolactinomas, unresponsive to all conventional treatment. 

Case Series 
We report three patients where temozolomide was used in the treatment of refractory prolactinomas. Case 1 describes a patient with a highly invasive prolactinoma, resistant to all conventional therapy, which responded dramatically to temozolomide used as a salvage treatment. In case 2, temozolomide was used after incomplete surgical resection to relieve chiasmal compression and avoid chiasm exposure to radiotherapy. In case 3, temozolomide enabled radiotherapy to be deferred in a 16-year old with a resistant prolactinoma. In all three cases, the tumours were negative by immunostaining for methylguanine methyltransferase (MGMT). 

Literature Review and Discussion 
A review of the published literature reveals 51 reported cases of temozolomide treatment for pituitary tumours, including 20 prolactinomas. Fifteen of the 20 prolactinomas showed a good response to temozolomide. Our analysis demonstrates a strong association between MGMT-negative staining and a good response to temozolomide (OR 9.35, P not equal 0.0030). Current clinical practice is to use temozolomide as a salvage therapy after all conventional modalities of treatment have failed. We suggest that, in selected cases, consideration should be given to using temozolomide earlier in the treatment algorithm.

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