What is gigantism? 

Gigantism is a rare, pediatric disorder characterized by abnormal growth. This rare condition – which has been reported about 100 times in medical literature – happens when a benign tumor called a pituitary adenoma forms on the pituitary gland, resulting in an excess production of growth hormone (GH). 

What are the symptoms of gigantism?

Symptoms of this condition appear in childhood and may include:

  • Enlarged hands and feet with thick fingers and toes
  • Coarse facial features with a prominent jaw and forehead
  • Enlarged head, tongue, and/or lips
  • Flat nose
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vision problems
  • Weakness
  • Deafness
  • Excess sweat
  • Insomnia
    • Other sleep disorders may occur
  • Delayed puberty
  • Deepened voice in males
  • Irregular menstrual periods in females

What causes gigantism?

The majority of cases are the result of a benign pituitary adenoma that either secretes excess GH itself or causes the pituitary gland to do so. Too much GH then causes the characteristic symptoms. 

Other possible causes include McCune-Albright syndrome, neurofibromatosis, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1, and Carney complex. 

How is gigantism diagnosed?

The first step in diagnosis is to review a patient’s medical and family history before looking for the characteristic symptoms in a physical examination. Other possible tests include blood tests, oral glucose tolerance tests, and imaging tests. 

What are the treatments for gigantism?

The goal of treatment is to lower the amount of GH. This may be achieved through surgery to remove the adenoma, medications that lower GH levels, and gamma-knife radiosurgery. 

Where can I find out more about gigantism?

Gigantism Articles