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Neurosurg Focus. 2010 Oct;29(4):E12. doi: 10.3171/2010.7.FOCUS10124.

Radiation treatment strategies for acromegaly.

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  • 1Department of Neurological Surgery, California Center for Pituitary Disorders, University of California, San Francisco, California 94143-0112, USA.


The high morbidity and mortality associated with acromegaly can be addressed with multiple treatment modalities, including surgery, medicines, and radiation therapy. Radiation was initially delivered through conventional fractionated radiotherapy, which targets a wide area over many treatment sessions and has been shown to induce remission in 50%–60% of patients with acromegaly. However, conventional fractionated radiotherapy takes several years to achieve remission in patients with acromegaly and carries a risk of hypopituitarism that may limit its use. Stereotactic radiosurgery, of which there are several forms, including Gamma Knife surgery, CyberKnife therapy, and proton beam therapy, offers slightly attenuated efficacy but achieves remission in less time and provides more precise targeting of the adenoma with better control of the dose of radiation received by adjacent structures such as the pituitary stalk, pituitary gland, optic chiasm, and cranial nerves in the cavernous sinus. Of the forms of stereotactic radiosurgery, Gamma Knife surgery is the most widely used and, because of its long-term follow-up in clinical studies, is the most likely to compete with medical therapy for first-line adjuvant use after resection. In this review, the authors outline the major modes of radiation therapies in clinical use today, and they critically assess the feasibility of these modalities for acromegaly treatment. Acromegaly is a multisystem disorder that demands highly specialized treatment protocols including neurosurgical and endocrinological intervention. As more efficient forms of pituitary radiation develop, acromegaly treatment options may continue to change with radiation therapies playing a more prominent role.

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