This problem happens when the pituitary gland in the brain makes too much GH. This may happen due to:

  • A benign tumor of the gland (most common)
  • Cancerous tumors of other organs, such as the pancreas, adrenal glands, or lung
Pituitary Gland
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Risk Factors

Acromegaly often starts around 45 years of age. Rarely, family history may increase the risk of this problem.



Symptoms usually start slowly over time.

In children, the bones grow longer and cause soft tissue swelling. If not treated, children can grow to a height of 7 to 8 feet.

Adults with acromegaly may have:

  • Abnormally large growth and changes of the:
    • Hands—rings no longer fit
    • Feet—need a bigger size shoe
    • Face—bulging of brow and lower jaw
    • Jaw—teeth do not line up correctly when the mouth is closed
    • Lips
    • Tongue
  • Skin changes, such as:
    • Thickened, oily, and sometimes darkened skin
    • Severe acne
    • Excess sweating and body odor
  • A deep voice
  • Problems sleeping
  • Swelling in the neck
  • Fatigue and weakness in the legs and arms
  • Joint pain, especially in the jaw
  • In women:
    • Irregular menstrual cycles
    • Abnormal production of breast milk
  • In men—problems keeping an erection


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.

Blood tests will be done.

Images may be taken of the body. This can be done with:

  • CT scan
  • MRI scan



The goals of treatment are to reduce GH levels and ease symptoms. Choices are:

  • Medicines to lower the level of GH
  • Medicine or radiation therapy to reduce the tumor
  • Surgery to remove the tumor


Acromegaly cannot be prevented.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.