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Acromegaly (cont.)

Acromegaly Treatment

The goals of therapy are to relieve and reverse the symptoms of acromegaly. This is done by normalizing production of growth hormone and IGF-1 and reducing the effects of the pituitary tumor on the surrounding tissues. A secondary goal is avoid damaging normal pituitary tissue.

At some time during the diagnosis or before beginning treatment, your health care provider will probably refer you to a specialist in hormonal disorders (endocrinologist).

Self-Care at Home

Acromegaly is a serious medical condition with potentially fatal complications. Self-care is not recommended, except measures you can take to help you feel more comfortable. Ask your health care provider about treating bothersome or uncomfortable symptoms.

Medical Treatment

Patient Comments

The choice of treatments in acromegaly depends on its cause. For the large majority of cases caused by pituitary adenomas, treatments include surgery, drug therapy, and radiation therapy.

  • Often a combination of these therapies is needed to put the disease in remission. ("Remission" here means to return levels of growth hormone and IGF-1 to normal.) No one combination of therapies works best for everyone. Surgery is usually the first approach.
  • If surgery alone fails to achieve complete remission, drug therapy is given.
  • The success of any treatment regimen is measured by checking levels of growth hormone and IGF-1 in the bloodstream.
  • IGF-1 or growth hormone measurements, or both, are repeated at intervals to monitor how well your therapy is working.

Radiation therapy usually is reserved for adenomas that are not cured by surgery and drug therapy. Radiation also is used for people who cannot undergo surgery because of other medical problems.

  • Radiation treatments are given in 2 forms, external beam and stereotactic.
  • External beam treatments are easier but take much longer to work, an average of 7 years.
  • Stereotactic radiotherapy takes about 18 months to normalize growth hormone and IGF-1 levels.
  • Many people who receive radiation therapy also receive drug therapy.
  • A majority of people who undergo radiation therapy have a normal or nearly normal growth hormone level 10 years after treatment.
  • Some people who undergo radiation therapy have permanent loss of pituitary function. These people must take hormone replacement for the rest of their lives.
  • Some studies have linked radiation therapy with growth of other tumors.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/23/2015
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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Acromegaly »

Increased and unregulated growth hormone (GH) production, usually caused by a GH-secreting pituitary tumor (somatotroph tumor), characterizes acromegaly.

Read More on Medscape Reference »

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