According to a story from Medscape, a recent study published in the medical journal Pituitary has revealed a significant disconnect between acromegaly patients and their physicians. The study suggests that doctors tend to under-report symptoms and display an overall lack of awareness of symptoms, their severity, and when they tend to appear. The study found that physicians tended to report fewer symptoms and side effects when compared to patient self-reporting.
Acromegaly is a condition that is characterized by the excessive release of growth hormone in the body after the growth plates have already closed. The disease is caused by overproduction of growth hormone by the pituitary gland, which usually occurs as a result of a tumor of the pituitary gland or of another organ in the body, such as the lungs or adrenal glands. Symptoms include enlargement of the feet, hands, nose, jaw, and forehead, deepening voice, and thick skin. The condition can occasionally cause serious complications like heart or kidney failure, colorectal cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Treatment may include radiation therapy, surgical removal of the tumor, and a number of medications to suppress growth hormone production. Most people see their symptoms disappear after successful treatment, and life expectancy is not affected. To learn more about acromegaly, click here.
Worrying Study Results
The results of the study are concerning to say the least. The disparities revealed by the study may be partially explained by the relative lack of awareness that both doctors and the general public have about acromegaly and other rare diseases. In addition, the findings may also be the result of insufficient communication between the doctor and patient.
Symptoms such as joint pain and “acro-fog” (periods of short-term memory loss) were among the most prevalent that patients reported, with 81 percent saying that they dealt with them. However, doctors reported fatigue as the most common symptom, with it appearing 92 percent of the time. 77 percent of patients reported fatigue. Patients reported symptoms such as joint pain, fatigue, headaches, and acro-fog as severe, but doctors were less likely than patients to rate any of the symptoms as severe.
While further study is necessary to solidify the findings, the results nevertheless speak to a worrying failure on the part of physicians to recognize if and when their acromegaly patients are experiencing symptoms.