What is acromegaly?

Acromegaly is caused when a tumour on the pituitary gland produces too much growth hormone. These tumours are almost always benign (i.e. not cancerous) and therefore do not spread to other areas of the body.

Acromegaly is a very rare condition and usually develops between the ages of 30 and 50. If the condition develops before a person has stopped growing (which usually occurs between the ages of 15 to 17 years of age), it causes Gigantism because growth hormone promotes growth of bones in the body.

Typical symptoms

  • coarsening of facial features
  • enlarged hands and feet
  • thickening of the soft tissue in the palms and soles of the feet
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (tingling feeling or pains in the hands)
  • excessive sweating and oily skin
  • headaches
  • vision disturbance
  • sleep apnoea
  • general tiredness
  • irregular periods (Oligomenorrhoea) or loss of normal menstrual function (Amenorrhoea) - adult females
  • impotence - adult males
  • reduced fertility
  • decrease in sex drive

All these symptoms tend to develop gradually and the changes may not be noticed for some time.