Acromegaly: A growing problem
MIAMI, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- When one man’s ring size went from a 10 to a 16, he didn’t know what to think. Turns out he suffers from the same condition that afflicted the famous wrestler, Andre the Giant. Find out what causes Acromegaly and what doctors are doing to treat it.
Creating custom furniture is a problem-solving process. But when Anthony Bucher’s health began to decline, it was a problem he couldn’t solve on his own.
Anthony shared, “My hands and feet started growing over time. I would look at my face and wonder why my jaw was pushing out and my cheekbones were growing.”
Years went by before Anthony was diagnosed with Acromegaly.
Atil Kargi, MD, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said, “Patients with this disorder typically present with changes in their hands and their feet as well as in their facial features.”
Dr. Kargi says the condition is caused by an excess of growth hormone.
“It’s almost always due to a pituitary tumor that’s secreting high levels of growth hormone affecting all parts of the body,” continued Dr. Kargi.
Symptoms may also include headaches, sweating, fatigue and hypertension.
“Patients with Acromegaly, if left untreated, have a life-expectancy that’s about ten years shorter than average,” explained Dr. Kargi.
The good news is if caught early doctors can remove the tumor.
“A neurosurgeon will actually go through the nose and right underneath the brain, remove the pituitary tumor,” Dr. Kargi said.
From 50 to 90 percent of patients are cured of symptoms.
Anthony’s tumor could only be partially removed. So he also underwent radiation.
“Radiation actually takes three to five years to take effect,” shared Anthony.
It’s a long, slow process … not a sprint. As his pet tortoise “Chompers” reminds him every day.
Anthony gives himself a daily shot to reduce his growth hormone. But he says the medication is costly: up to $20,000 dollars a month! Insurance and a grant from Pfizer is helping him cover most of the cost. Children can also suffer from this condition, although rare. For more information on clinical trials for Acromegaly and other pituitary problems please visit: http://umbti.med.miami.edu/programsUPit
Contributors to this news report include: Janna Ross, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; and Judy Reich, Videographer.