Understanding Acromegaly

Acromegaly is not always easy to recognize. While many symptoms seem to affect the way you look, others are the result of more subtle changes happening inside the body. Some of these changes can have serious health consequences if not recognized and controlled. Fortunately, acromegaly is a treatable condition. Acromegaly is a lifelong condition, and requires that you make a commitment to seek ongoing care.

Understanding Acromegaly

Learn about signs, symptoms, and more with an illustrated infographic about understanding acromegaly.
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There are several ways to successfully manage acromegaly — including transsphenoidal surgery, medical therapy, and radiation therapy (radiotherapy). You and your health care provider should work together to determine a treatment plan that's best for you.

This section of the site provides basic information you need to begin understanding acromegaly, by addressing the following questions:

What Causes Acromegaly?

What Are the Symptoms of Acromegaly?

How Is Acromegaly Diagnosed?

What Is Acromegaly?

Acromegaly is a rare disease. In fact, it's not known exactly how many people in the United States have it. Worldwide, it's believed that 60 out of every million people are affected by acromegaly. Yet, recent studies suggest the numbers might be as high as 115 to 295 out of every million people. The term "acromegaly" comes from the Greek words "acro" (extremities) and "megaly" (enlargement). As the name suggests, acromegaly can be recognized by abnormal growth of the hands and feet, as well as other signs such as enlargement of the facial features. However, acromegaly also involves changes in the way the body functions. Over time these changes can cause complications that can be life threatening. These health risks make it important to attain and maintain control of the condition once it has been diagnosed.

Mechanisms of Pituitary Disease and Acromegaly

WATCH: Mechanisms of Pituitary Disease and Acromegaly
Dr. Shlomo Melmed discusses the mechanism of pituitary disease, including acromegaly. The program includes such topics as an overview of pituitary diseases, pituitary dysregulation in adenomas, and acromegaly.

Acromegaly Is Different From Gigantism

Acromegaly is different from gigantism, although both conditions can have a similar cause. Acromegaly occurs in adulthood, when the long bones of the legs and arms have stopped growing.

What Is Gigantism?

Gigantism occurs in childhood. People affected by gigantism can grow to great heights. One of the best-known examples is "Andre the Giant" (Andre Rousimoff), who was 6 feet 3 inches by age 12, and reached a height of 8 feet 4 inches in adulthood. Men and women are equally affected by gigantism.

Learn about the causes of acromegaly