What You Need to Know Before Opting for Pituitary Surgery

Anyone living with acromegaly should understand their treatment options and why they’re being proposed.

The UCLA Pituitary Tumor Program has a video outlining some of the treatment considerations for acromegaly. It’s just under 7 minutes long and I encourage you to check it out, but I also caution you that the information is quite dense and intended more for a healthcare professional audience than a patient audience.

SO, I’ve decided to highlight the key info here (in what I hope are simpler terms):

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Source: www.giphy.com

Acromegaly Treatment Goals

  • Normalize growth hormone (GH) levels
  • Normalize insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) levels

Historical Approach to Acromegaly Treatment

  • Surgical removal (also called “resection”) of pituitary tumors

Why That’s Problematic

  • Surgery (especially brain surgery) comes with serious risks
  • Studies have shown that even with surgery, IGF-1 and GH levels may remain elevated
    • Depending on the extent of the tumor and other factors, the success rate for tumor resection performed by an expert surgeon (one who does at least 50-100 surgeries a year) is 22-65%

Other Acromegaly Treatment Options

  • Front-line medicinal approach

Why It Should Be Considered

  • Various studies (beginning in the 1980s and continuing through the early 2000s) show medical therapy in the treatment of acromegaly can:
    • control GH levels in up to 73% of patients
    • control IFG-1 levels in up to 72% of patients
    • shrink tumors
      • A study published in 2002 showed octreotide shrunk tumors by as much as 51%
      • Another study conducted in the UK and also published in 2002 showed that 73% of patients treated with octreotide as their primary therapy had at least a 30% reduction in their tumor size
        • that same study showed controlled GH levels in 79% of patients, and…
        • normal IGF-1 levels in 53% of patients


  • While scientific leaders in acromegaly may have suggested surgery in the past, minds are changing and a medicinal approach is now being viewed as a reasonable first-line treatment
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Good to know. Source: www.giphy.com

Is this information helpful? What else do consider when choosing an acromegaly treatment? Discuss below!

James Ernest Cassady

James Ernest Cassady

Though "Ernest" is a family name that's been passed down for generations, James truly earned his middle moniker when, at the age of five, he told his mother that "laughing is stupid unless EVERYBODY is happy." Since then, the serious little bastard has been on a mission to highlight the world's shortcomings (and hopefully correct them). In addition to his volunteer work at hospitals and animal shelters, James also enjoys documentaries and the work of William Faulkner. He is originally from Oklahoma.

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