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J Endocrinol Invest. 2003;26(10 Suppl):36-43.

Therapy for the syndromes of GH excess.

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Institute of Endocrine Sciences, University of Milan, Milan, Italy.


This short review summarizes the results of treatments now available in Italy for the management of GH and IGF-I excess due to primary pituitary somatotroph adenoma, which accounts for over 99% of cases of acromegaly. Goals of treatment of acromegaly should now include, in addition to the reduction of tumor bulk and symptomatic relief, the lowering of GH circulating concentrations to below a critical level (2.5 microg/l, "safe" GH), the normalization of serum IGF-I concentrations according to age, improvement (or at least not worsening) of co-morbidities (diabetes mellitus, hypertension, cardiomyopathy, sleep-apnea), the decrease of the risk of premature mortality. Surgery, radiation (fractionated conventional radiotherapy and radiosurgery) and medical treatments with dopamine agonists and somatostatin analogs are the available options that are discussed in detail. The treatment of acromegaly must be tailored to the needs of the individual patient. Age, tumor size and invasiveness, GH concentrations, the patient's general medical conditions, presence and severity of co-morbidities, availability of local resources such as an expert neurosurgeon or gamma-knife radiosurgery, and of course the informed wishes of the patient are all factors that must be taken into account. For most patients the treatment will be multimodal. However, despite criteria and guidelines based on continuously emerging information about the management of acromegaly, patient outcomes are still less than desirable, with 10 to 20% of patients with uncontrolled disease, despite the use of all available therapies. This underscores the need for the quick introduction in clinical practice of the new therapies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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