The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) released new guidelines today to diagnose and treat acromegaly, a rare and debilitating endocrine disorder. The guidelines are published in the May/June 2004 issue of AACE's peer-reviewed journal Endocrine Practice.
The new guidelines emphasize the importance of diagnosing and initiating treatment for patients with acromegaly in a timely manner. Acromegaly often remains undetected for up to ten years before formal diagnosis. Untreated, the disorder can lead to severe illnesses, such as hypertension, cardiac disease, cancer, and even death.
Acromegaly, primarily characterized by abnormal growth of the hands and feet, comes from the Greek words for extremities and great. This endocrine disorder is caused by a pituitary tumor producing excess growth hormone, resulting in excessive growth of bones and soft tissues. Acromegaly affects 3 to 4 cases per 1 million people, mostly middle-aged adults.
Early treatment can prevent further bone enlargement and associated complications. Recent studies have shown that many consequences related to soft tissue overgrowth can be reversed, at least in part, with appropriate therapy. In addition, appropriate therapy seems to reverse the increased risk of death in patients with acromegaly.
"The guidelines will serve as an effective resource to primary care physicians, who are often the first physicians to recognize the problem, as well as endocrinologists, who are the hormone experts who treat the disease," commented David M. Cook, MD, Chairman of the AACE Acromegaly Guidelines Task Force.
AACE is a professional medical organization with over 4,900 members in the United States and 70 other countries. Founded in 1991, AACE is dedicated to the optimal care of patients with endocrine problems. Endocrinologists are the medical experts on endocrine diseases such as pituitary disorders, diabetes, thyroid disorders, growth hormone deficiency, osteoporosis, cholesterol disorders, hypertension, PCOS and obesity.