Advertisement

What treatment for acromegaly is most effective?

Early treatment for acromegaly is a key aspect of managing the disease. Since acromegaly is usually the result of a tumor on the pituitary gland, surgery to remove or minimize the size of the tumor is a good first line of treatment. Radiation or drug therapy may be used after surgery to continue to control the amount of growth hormone in the body. Without treatment, acromegaly can lead to other serious health problems.
Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine

No single treatment is effective for all patients. Treatment should be individualized, and often combined, depending on a patient's characteristics such as age and tumor size.

If the tumor has not yet invaded surrounding nonpituitary tissues, removal of the pituitary adenoma by an experienced neurosurgeon is usually the first choice. Even if a cure is not possible, surgery may be performed if the patient has symptoms of neurological problems such as loss of peripheral vision or cranial nerve problems. After surgery, hormone levels are measured to determine whether a cure has been achieved. This determination can take up to eight weeks because insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-I) lasts a long time in the body's circulation. If cured, a patient must be monitored for a long time for increasing growth hormone (GH) levels.

If surgery does not normalize hormone levels or a relapse occurs, an endocrinologist should recommend additional drug therapy. With each medication, long-term therapy is necessary because their withdrawal can lead to rising GH levels and tumor re-expansion.

Radiation therapy is generally reserved for patients whose tumors are not completely removed by surgery, who are not good candidates for surgery because of other health problems, or who do not respond adequately to surgery and medication.

This answer is based on source information from the National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service.

Continue Learning about Acromegaly

What is the rate of incidence for acromegaly?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
Acromegaly is a rare disease. Every year, about three or four people in every million develop acrome...
More Answers
Is acromegaly life threatening?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
When acromegaly is treated early, doctors have a much better chance of managing the progression of t...
More Answers
What is acromegaly?
Joshua B. Bederson, MDJoshua B. Bederson, MD
Tumors that produce excess growth hormone cause the condition known as acromegaly. Physical changes ...
More Answers
How common is acromegaly?
Donna Hill Howes, RNDonna Hill Howes, RN
Scientists estimate that three to four out of every million people develop acromegaly each year ...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.