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Radiotherapy for acromegaly

Radiotherapy is the use of radiation to destroy tumour cells.

Current guidelines suggest that radiotherapy should be considered in people who have some tumour remaining after surgery or if medications used to treat acromegaly are unavailable, unsuccessful or not tolerated.

Living with acromegaly

Information about the emotional, physical and social challenges of living with acromegaly

When is radiotherapy used?

If surgery or medication do not lower growth hormone and IGF-1 levels, then radiotherapy may sometimes be used to try to reduce the growth hormone secretion of the pituitary tumour. 

Radiotherapy can be effective, but the irradiated tumour cells die very slowly, over a period of many months or years, and so the effects of treatment take time. 

In the meantime, growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) levels may have to be controlled with medical treatments until the radiotherapy takes full effect. 

What types of radiotherapy are there?

There are two different types of radiotherapy that may be used. Both involve lying on a bed for positioning in a radiotherapy machine for a short time. 

Conventional radiation therapy

The radiotherapy treatment most frequently used is an external beam. Small doses of radiation are given for a few minutes each day, for 5 days for 5 to 6 weeks. 

A mask will be made for you to prevent your head from moving during the procedure. Do not worry; the mask will have big holes for your eyes and mouth.

Stereotactic radiosurgery

Another approach is stereotactic radiosurgery, which uses a highly focused single beam of radiation given as one single dose to the tumour cells. 

A lightweight head frame will need to be worn to ensure that the radiation beam is directed with precision at the tumour. The frame is held in position with four pins; a local anesthetic is applied to the area where the pins are to be attached.

Radiotherapy may be used as part of the treatment plan for acromegaly.

Radiotherapy may be used as part of the treatment plan for acromegaly.

General side effects of radiation therapy

Side effects can happen immediately after treatment or a few days or weeks after treatment, but generally go away within a few weeks to a couple of months of finishing treatment. 

  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Skin changes
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite

Side effects of radiation to the brain

Aside from the general side effects of radiation therapy, because radiation therapy is to the brain for acromegaly treatment, additional side effects may be experienced:

  • Swelling
  • Cognitive problems

Sometimes side effects can appear long after the treatment finishes. These may include mental or emotional problems or second cancers due to the effect of radiation.

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Treating acromegaly

Read about acromegaly treatment options, including surgery, radiotherapy and medications and the goals of treatment.

Find out more about acromegaly

Acromegaly FAQs

Read answers to some common questions that patients with acromegaly have asked

Support groups

Find an acromegaly patient support group in your country to learn about local activities and events that you may be able to attend.

Living with acromegaly

Information about the emotional, physical and social challenges of living with acromegaly

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Please always consult a healthcare professional if you require healthcare advice or if you have any specific concerns regarding your acromegaly, its treatment or side effects. The information provided here is not intended to replace professional advice. This website has been developed by Ipsen in collaboration with those living with acromegaly and the healthcare professionals who care for them. Ipsen would like to thank everyone for their valuable insights and stories. All names used on this website are not necessarily real names. Visit for more information about us.

Consultez toujours un professionnel de la santé lorsque vous avez besoin de conseils en matière de soins de santé ou lorsque vous avez des préoccupations particulières concernant l’acromégalie, sa prise en charge ou ses effets secondaires. Les renseignements fournis ici ne doivent pas remplacer les conseils offerts par un professionnel. Ce site Web a été conçu par Ipsen en collaboration avec des personnes atteintes d’acromégalie et des professionnels de la santé qui s’occupent d’elles. Ipsen tient à remercier toutes les personnes qui ont participé à l’élaboration de ce site Web pour leurs précieux commentaires et leurs témoignages. Les noms utilisés sur ce site Web peuvent être fictifs. Pour en savoir plus à notre sujet, consultez le site

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