Epidemiology of Acromegaly

Acromegaly is a relatively uncommon disease, and studies estimate that its prevalence is 60 cases per million people, with an estimated annual incidence of 3 to 4 people per million.1,2

Pathophysiology

Acromegaly is characterized by hypersecretion of growth hormone (GH), which is caused by the existence of a secreting pituitary tumor in more than 95% of acromegaly cases.1,3 Pituitary tumors are benign adenomas and can be classified according to size (microadenomas being less than 1 cm in diameter and macroadenomas being greater than 1 cm in diameter).1 In rare instances, elevated GH levels are caused by extra pituitary disorders. In either situation, hypersecretion of GH in turn causes subsequent hepatic stimulation of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1).3

The clinical features of acromegaly result from either:

  • Pressure from the pituitary adenoma3,4
  • Elevated levels of GH and IGF-1, which work independently and in tandem to produce various signs and symptoms associated with acromegaly3,4

Specifically, cardiovascular, respiratory, and metabolic comorbidities—and resultant potential for mortality—are associated with permanently elevated levels of GH and IGF-1.3,5

References:
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Acromegaly. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/acromegaly#treatment. Accessed April 27, 2017.
Buehler BR, Henzen CM, de Zulueta MT, Ross RA. Acromegaly and colorectal cancer. J Applied Res. 2004;4:257-260.
Katznelson L, Laws ER Jr, Melmed S, et al. Acromegaly: an Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014;99(11):3933-3951.
Vilar L, Vilar CF, Lyra R, Lyra R, Naves LA. Acromegaly: clinical features at diagnosis. Pituitary. 2017;20(1):22-32.
Melmed S, Casanueva F, Cavagnini F, Chanson P, et al. Consensus statement: medical management of acromegaly. Eur J Endocrinol. 2005;153:737-740.
Comprehensive Symptom Guide Acromegaly is comprised of a range of clinical features.4
Click here for a guide to presenting complaints and potential comorbidities.