Acromegaly is a rare disease. It develops due to an excessive growth hormone production. You may wonder, what causes acromegaly? It is almost always caused by to a benign (non-cancerous) pituitary tumor, which produces too much growth hormone. this type of tumor is called Growth – Hormone (GH) producing tumor.
Symptoms of Acromegaly – Excessive Growth Hormone
- Coarsening of facial features (develops slowly; comparison to an old picture is helpful).
- Enlargement of jaw and tongue.
- Separation of teeth.
- Excessive soft tissues in palms (“pillow-like” feel upon handshake).
- Excessive soft tissues in feet (increase in shoe size).
- Thickening of fingers (a ring may no longer fit).
- Excessive perspiration.
- Skin tags.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Joint pains.
- High blood pressure.
- Enlarged heart.
- Kidney stones.
- Colon polyps and increased risk for colon cancer.
Symptoms of Acromegaly develop insidiously. That’s why sometimes patient may not be aware of them, as he/she gets used to theses symptoms. It is usually someone else who points out these features to the patient. As a physician, once you have seen a patient with acromegaly, you can spot one immediately, even in a crowd.
Measuring serum IGF-1 is a good screening test for Acromegaly in suspected cases.
Confirmation of the diagnosis of Acromegaly is carried out with an Oral Glucose Challenge test.
These tests should be carried out in consultation with an endocrinologist.
Acromegaly is a treatable disease. In most case, treatment consists of surgical removal of the pituitary tumor followed by radiation therapy.
If surgery is contraindicated due to other medical reasons, then medical therapy with a drug called Octreotide is quite effective.
Is Acromegaly Curable?
Often the diagnosis is delayed due to slow progression of the clinical signs and symptoms. That’s why most patients have developed enlargement of organs and other complications at the time of diagnosis. That’s why it is not curable in most cases.
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