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Acromegaly (cont.)

Medical Treatment

Patient Comments

The choice of treatmentsin 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 toput the disease in remission. ("Remission" heremeans 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 studieshave linkedradiation therapy with growth of other tumors.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/19/2014
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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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