Meet your care team
A number of healthcare professionals are involved in the diagnosis and treatment of acromegaly.
Who you see will largely depend on your individual circumstances, such as if you have any other conditions associated with acromegaly.
What healthcare professionals are you likely to see?
From general practitioners (GPs), nurses, dentists and ophthalmologists who work in primary care, through to specialist doctors and nurses who treat people with endocrine disorders (endocrinologists and endocrine nurses) in secondary care, you are likely to see several healthcare professionals while living with acromegaly.
Once you have a confirmed diagnosis of acromegaly, a multidisciplinary team will usually coordinate your care, with the endocrinologist being your main point of contact.
These primary care healthcare professionals may be among the first to suspect, or perhaps mention to you, that you may have acromegaly.
These secondary care healthcare professionals may help confirm that you do have acromegaly and carry out treatment.
- Endocrine nurse
Other healthcare professionals
Others who may be part of your healthcare team include those who treat conditions that might occur alongside acromegaly.
- Sleep specialist
- Headache specialist
- Pain specialist
- Foot specialist
From suspicion to diagnosis
Acromegaly can take a long time to develop and may not show any specific symptoms at the beginning, which may make it difficult for doctors to spot the signs of the condition at an early stage.
Initial symptoms or signs can be similar to other ailments or situations and so they may be attributed to other conditions such as depression and anxiety, arthritis or the start of the menopause in women. More distinct symptoms, such as enlargement of the hands and feet, usually occur later in the disease process.
This is why the diagnosis of acromegaly can often take several years and people may see several clinicians, including dentists and ophthalmologists, before an endocrinologist formally diagnoses them.
Do not be afraid to seek a second medical opinion, however, if you suspect that you or a loved one may have acromegaly as it is often difficult to separate acromegaly, which is a rarely diagnosed condition, from these other more common medical situations.
Who will make the diagnosis?
Once a diagnosis of acromegaly is suspected by your GP, or another primary care healthcare professional, you will normally be seen by an endocrinologist, usually at your nearest main hospital that has a specialist centre.
The endocrinologist is usually the one who confirms the diagnosis and who will oversee your care long term, so it is important to feel comfortable with them. Ask your endocrinologist to tell you a bit about their experience treating acromegaly, and perhaps ask them to put you in touch with a local pituitary patient support group.
What tests will be used?
To begin the diagnostic process, the endocrinologist will take a medical history and conduct a physical examination. Then he or she may recommend the following steps:
After fasting overnight, your doctor will take a blood sample to measure your levels of growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). Higher than normal levels of these two hormones suggest a diagnosis of acromegaly.
Growth hormone suppression test
This test is used to confirm that you have acromegaly. In this test, your blood levels of GH are measured before and after you drink a preparation of sugar (glucose). Normally, ingesting large amounts of glucose supresses GH secretion from the pituitary. If you have acromegaly, your GH level will remain high.
Your doctor will recommend that you undergo a pituitary imaging technique, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A radiologist will perform the MRI to determine the location and size of the tumour of your pituitary gland.
Who will give me my treatment?
A number of expert healthcare professionals will be involved in your care and will work together to decide what treatment is appropriate for you. This multidisciplinary approach is important for managing acromegaly, and it helps ensure that you will receive appropriate care.
The main healthcare professional that you are likely to see is an endocrinologist who will generally oversee your care.
If surgery is required, you will see a surgeon who specializes in pituitary surgery, usually a neurosurgeon.
If radiotherapy is required, then a radiotherapist will also be involved in your treatment.
In some areas there will also be a specialist (endocrine) nurse to help and support you in hospital who will act as a bridge between your primary care and secondary care.
If medicines are required to treat your acromegaly, an endocrinologist will usually be the one to recommend this treatment.
Acromunity fast facts
People can see three or more clinicians before a diagnosis of acromegaly is made. Endocrinologists are usually the first to formally confirm the condition.
How can you keep track of who’s who?
As you are likely to see several healthcare professionals throughout your journey with acromegaly, you may find it helpful to keep a log of whom you have seen and when you have had an appointment.
You might also find it helpful to write down your medical details, the results of any tests you may have had, your treatments, and any side effects or symptoms you may have had or may be experiencing.
Rate this content
Learn about acromegaly
Learn about acromegaly including how excess growth hormone released by a pituitary tumour causes this slowly evolving condition, and the early symptoms and signs of acromegaly.