Improving Acromegaly Awareness in Dentists
Did you know dentists are instrumental in the early diagnosis of acromegaly?
Noticed changes to the oral cavity of a patient? suggest they ask their GP for their growth hormone and IGF-1 levels to be checked, and ask for a referral to an endocrinologist.
- Acromegaly is a hormonal disorder that results from too much growth hormone in the body. Symptoms dentists might spot: changes in oral cavity, enlarged lips, nose and tongue, changes to jaw, and gaps between teeth.
- It can take up to 10 years for patients to be diagnosed with acromegaly and it can damage the internal organs if left untreated this long. If a dentists can diagnose acromegaly in its earlier stages it can result in significant improvements to quality of life later.
- The diagnosis is often delayed as the symptoms develop gradually over time, and patients and families may not notice the changes.
- Studies show that untreated acromegalic patients are more likely to suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems with a reduced life expectancy compared to the normal population. These can be improved after successful treatment.
Visit this webpage to find out more about acromegaly.
We have an information booklet for patients about acromegaly that you could signpost a patient to if you think they may have the condition.
Other symptoms of acromegaly can include:
• Deepening of the voice due to enlarged vocal cords and sinuses
• Thicker, coarse, oily skin
• Joint aches
• Excessive sweating and skin odour
• Skin tags - tiny flesh-coloured finger-like projections on the skin
• Loss, or lack of libido
• Erectile dysfunction in men
• Abnormalities of the menstrual cycle and sometimes breast discharge in women
• Fatigue and weakness
• Impaired vision
• Sleep apnoea - breaks in breathing during sleep due to obstruction of the airway
• High blood pressure
British Medical Journal states - ‘Craniofacial soft tissue and skeletal changes including mandibular prognathism and disturbed occlusion are typical manifestations of the disease process. Dental professionals may be the first healthcare providers to be visited by these patients and thereby prove instrumental in early diagnosis’ Read full article here
The Pituitary Foundation's activities during the campaign
The campaign ran during the summer of 2018 and has now finished, however, you can still help us raise awareness by using the resources.
We ran a social media awareness campaign which reached over 60,000 people. Including publicising stories from patients who were diagnosed by their dentist. We targeted organisations working in the field of dentistry, and publicised our campaign materials including awareness leaflet. Approximately 2700 copies of the leafelt were circulated.
We also encouraged our members and volunteers to help spread awareness to their dentists.
Our campaign is aimed at dentists in the UK but if you are a patient or member of the public you can help us by helping spread awareness in the following ways:
1 - Leaflet distribution
The Foundation is circulating our leaflet (below) to dentist associations. However, we need your help to enable us to target all the smaller practices. If you would like to take a leaflet to your dentist please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your address and we will send you a leaflet. (If you are a member of ours a leaflet was included in the June 2018 edition of Pituitary Life so please only request one if you are not a member).
2 - Social media
Help spread awareness by copying the below message and posting on your Twitter feed:
Improving acromegaly awareness in dentists, find out more: www.pituitary.org.uk/get-involved/awareness
3 - Patient stories
Read Richard's story about getting diagnosed through his dentist, and send us your own patient story if you are an acromegaly patient.