Sue Perkins health: The diagnosis that ‘destroyed’ her life – and symptoms for you to spot

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The former Great British Bake Off presenter received the news that she had been living with a brain tumour. The tumour was discovered while Perkins was having medical examinations for the television show Supersizers back in 2015. Luckily the tumour, which is located in her pituitary gland is benign and non-symptomatic.

However, Perkins revealed that when she found out the news about her tumour it had an “epic destruction” on her life.

She told BBC Radio 4: “I have been through a very, very dark time since the tumour started to make its presence felt.

“Sometimes it’s big and makes me mad, and sometimes it’s small and is in the background. Sometimes it screws up my hormones. I have various tests now to make sure the side effects aren’t too onerous.

“There’s always a delay for me. It’s only really now that I consider the epic destruction this tiny little rice-shaped thing in my pituitary gland has caused.”

Despite the benign state of the tumour, it does affect the secretion of reproductive hormones, meaning Perkins is unable to have children.

In response to this she commented: “I don’t know if I would have gone on to have children, but as soon as someone says you can’t have something, you want it more than anything.”

It was this that put Mel and Sue’s friendship to the test.

In an interview with Good Housekeeping Sue revealed that when Mel, who now has two children with husband Ben Morris, gave birth to her first child, she worried that it would “destroy something.”

Sue admits to feeling a sense of despair at her friend doing something that she will never be able to do, but has now come to terms with the fact that their lives are different and full of different experiences.

What is a Pituitary Tumor?

The pituitary gland is located at the base of the brain, just below the nerves that lead to and from your eyes.

It produces different hormones that then go on to control other hormone-producing glands in the body such as the adrenal and thyroid glands.

Tumours within the pituitary gland can also be either secreting or non-secreting, meaning they either produce hormones (secreting) or they do not (non secreting).

According to Cancer research UK, the symptoms an individual develops depend on if the tumour makes hormones or not.

Tumours that do not make hormones, known as non secreting, can affect your eyesight, due to the location of the gland itself.

Tumours that create hormones, known as secreting, are more complex depending on the type of hormone that is released.

The most common type of secreting tumour is known as a Prolactin-secreting tumour, which can cause:

  • Infertility
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Disruption of monthly periods
  • Difficulty getting an erection
  • Increased milk production in the breasts of women

Other secreted hormones can lead to abnormal growth. This causes a condition known as acromegaly where the individual’s hands, feet, lower jaw and brows become enlarged.

Symptoms including weight loss, anxiety, increased facial hair and depression associated with different types of hormones are extremely rare.

Cancer Research UK provides statistics that about eight percent of brain tumours diagnosed in England between 2006 and 2010 were pituitary tumours.

Diagnosis is common from eye tests or blood tests, where doctors can find out as much as they can about the type, size and position of a tumour.

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