Ectopic acromegaly

G. Faglia, M. Arosio, N. Bazzoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ectopic acromegaly is a rare syndrome (less than 1% of acromegalic patients) caused by ectopic growth hormone-releasing hormone (GHRH) or growth hormone(GH)-producing tumors. Its recognition is clinically important because acromegaly may be a symptom of an aggressive tumor, and different therapeutic approaches are required. Most cases are caused by either extra- or intracranial GHRH-producing tumors, whereas in rare instances the underlying disease is an ectopic GH-secreting tumor. The routine evaluation of circulating GHRH in all acromegalic patients may allow its early recognition, because plasma levels greater than 0.3 ng/mL are virtually diagnostic of a GHRH-producing tumor (frequently a bronchial or pancreatic carcinoid), whereas suppressed levels may suggest an ectopic GH-producing tumor. In addition to classic imaging techniques, whole body scintiscan with labeled octreotide may help in the localization of ectopic tumors. Surgical removal of the ectopic tumor is the therapy of choice, but it is not always feasible because patients often present with widespread metastases. Patients with GHRH-induced acromegaly benefit from the administration of the long-acting somatostatin analog, octreotide, which reduces GH, IGF-I, and GHRH, and may shrink the ectopic tumor, its metastases, and the secondary pituitary enlargement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)575-595
Number of pages21
JournalEndocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology


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