When your pituitary gland makes
too much growth hormone, abnormal growth occurs. This is called acromegaly. The abnormal
growth starts in your hands and feet, as soft tissue begins to swell. This rare disease
affects mostly middle-aged adults. It can lead to severe illness and even death if not
In children, too much growth
hormone causes a condition called gigantism. This leads to a large increase in
Acromegaly happens when the
pituitary gland makes too much growth hormone for a long time. Several reasons may cause
this extra amount of hormone to be made. The most common is a noncancer (benign) tumor
in the pituitary gland. Tumors in other parts of the body can also cause acromegaly.
But that is rare.
Each person’s symptoms may vary. They depend on how long you have had
the disease. Symptoms may include:
These symptoms may look like other health problems. Always see
your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Symptoms may not be seen right
away. So acromegaly is often not found until years later. Your healthcare provider will
take your health history and give you a physical exam. In addition, you may need:
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It
will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Treatment of acromegaly depends on
what is causing the disease. The main goal of treatment is to get your growth hormone
levels back to normal.
Most cases are caused by benign
tumors on the pituitary gland. Others are caused by tumors in the pancreas, lungs, or
adrenal glands. Treatment may include:
If acromegaly isn’t treated, it can lead to several problems. These may include:
The disease also raises your risk for colon polyps. These are small growths on the lining of your colon. They may lead to colorectal cancer.
You should see your healthcare
provider on a regular basis. Your provider can make sure your treatment is working. Your
provider can also check for any problems. Early treatment can then be started if
Tell your healthcare provider if your symptoms get worse or you have new symptoms.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
The University of Chicago Medicine
5841 S. Maryland Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637 | 773-702-1000
Appointments: Call UCM Connect at 1-888-824-0200