What is acromegaly?

Acromegaly is a rare hormonal disorder that is caused, in most cases, by a non-cancerous (benign) tumour in the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is located just beneath the base of the brain and produces hormones that affect many functions in the body.

In acromegaly, the pituitary gland produces too much growth hormone (GH), which leads to the overproduction by the liver of another hormone, insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1).

High levels of GH and IGF-1 in the blood result in abnormal growth of skeletal muscle, bone, tissues and organs. When this happens, acromegaly patients experience enlargement of the hands, feet, and other parts of the body as well as changes in facial features, thickened skin and excessive sweating.

Some symptoms are due to the tumor pressing on nearby tissues.