Medical therapy: Options and uses

  • John D. Carmichael
  • Vivien S. BonertEmail author


Since the initial use of medical treatment for acromegaly, several advances have been made in the understanding of the pathophysiology of growth hormone producing tumors, resulting in the development of multiple medical options and novel treatments. Currently there are three major classes of medication available for the treatment of acromegaly: somatostatin receptor ligands, growth hormone receptor antagonists, and dopamine agonists. Somatostatin receptor ligands are the treatment of choice for acromegaly due to their effectiveness in controlling growth hormone excess in approximately 60% of patients and their beneficial effects on tumor volume. Clinical trials have demonstrated efficacy of pegvisomant in up to 97% of patients, but long term data and safety have yet to be established. Dopamine agonists are inexpensive, but their use is hampered by their lack of efficacy compared to other medications. Medical therapy has an established role as adjuvant therapy after non-curative surgery, as well as primary therapy for selected patients unsuitable for surgical resection. Medical treatment to control growth hormone hypersecretion is often needed after radiation therapy until the effects are evident. Preliminary data suggest a potential role for medical treatment prior to surgical resection, surgical debulking to improve medical efficacy, and combination therapy with multiple medications from the three classes. More studies are required, however, to validate the utility of these approaches in treating acromegaly. With the available therapies, disease control can be achieved in nearly all patients with acromegaly.


Acromegaly Growth hormone Growth hormone receptor antagonists Somatostatin receptor ligands Dopamine agonists Medical treatment Review 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, Cedars-Sinai Medical CenterDavid Geffen School of Medicine at UCLALos AngelesUSA

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