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Millions might unknowingly suffer from growth-hormone disorder

Millions of people across the world might be suffering from a life-shortening hormone disorder without even knowing it, according to UK journalist Jon Danzig.

Danzig, an award winning medical journalist and film-maker, has just completed a review and critique of the latest guidelines for acromegaly, a serious growth hormone condition.  The illness is almost always caused by a non-cancerous tumor of the pituitary gland, resulting in excess growth hormone circulating the body.  Left untreated, it can cause a wide range of debilitating symptoms and reduce life expectancy.

“I’ve just reviewed the latest guidelines for acromegaly produced by the American Association for Clinical Endocrinologists,” Danzig told Health Canal.  “It’s seven years since the Association last produce a guideline for doctors and in that time their guide has grown considerably – from 13 pages to 44.”

Danzig said a lot has been learnt about acromegaly in that time, but more needs to be achieved. “Unfortunately most acromegaly patients still don’t get diagnosed early enough and the average delay from the onset of symptoms can be up to ten years.  In that time considerable damage can occur, and it’s much more difficult to cure the patient.”

The delay, said Danzig, is because the visible symptoms of acromegaly are so slow and insidious, occurring over a period of years.  These can include enlargement of hands and feet, and facial changes including a protruding chin and forehead.  “Because these changes happen so gradually, sufferers often don’t even notice themselves.”

Until recently, said Danzig, it was thought that acromegaly was “an extremely rare disease” with a world-wide prevalence of only about half-a-million.  “But the new guidelines report research from Germany that indicates the worldwide prevalence of acromegaly might be as high as seven million,” said Danzig.  “If this research is verified,” he added, “it means that acromegaly is not so much rare as very rarely diagnosed.   Millions across the world might be suffering from acromegaly without even knowing it.”

Danzig continued, “It’s so important that better efforts are made to find and treat these undiagnosed patients.”

In his summary and critique, written he said “mostly for patients”, Danzig commented that he hoped the next seven years would see faster diagnosis times and better treatments “to achieve either a real cure or at least substantially improved outcomes” for acromegaly patients.

Only at the end of his 4,000 word summary does Danzig reveal that he is not only an “award-winning medical journalist” but also an acromegaly patient himself.  He has written extensively about how the illness has affected his life and career, including a feature-story for the UK ‘Independent’ newspaper called, “My DIY Diagnosis.”

Danzig was invited to write his summary and critique for the prestigious ‘Thought Leaders’ column of News-Medicaldotnet, where contributors are described as “international experts and trusted advisers in health and medicine.”

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