There are different types of radiotherapy that may be used. All involve lying on a bed for positioning in a radiotherapy machine for a short time.
Conventional radiotherapy involves small doses of radiation given daily for 5 days a week, usually over a period of 4 to 6 weeks.
It may take several years (10 or more) after the treatment for the full effects of radiotherapy to be complete.
Stereotactic radiosurgery delivers a high dose of radiation to the tumour cells in a single dose. This type of radiation may bring growth hormone levels back to normal within five years.
A lightweight head frame will need to be worn to ensure that the radiation beams are directed with precision to the tumour. The frame is held in position with four pins; a local anaesthetic is applied to the area where the pins are to be attached.
Stereotactic radiosurgery is a highly specialised treatment and so may not be available in all centres.
Radiotherapy may be used as part of the treatment plan for acromegaly
Radiotherapy can damage normal cells or structures surrounding the pituitary tumour, which can lead to side effects.
Possible short-term side effects that can occur with radiation therapy include fatigue, headache, nausea and/or vomiting, skin redness and patchy hair loss. These side effects generally resolve within 1-2 weeks of finishing treatment.
Radiotherapy can damage the normal pituitary tissue next to the tumour and lead to decreased production of other pituitary hormones. As this risk increases slowly with time, your doctor will monitor your hormone levels long-term after treatment and start replacement hormone therapy if required.
Rarely radiation therapy can cause vison defects or visual loss.
Secondary cancers occurring as a result of radiation therapy are a rare side effect.
Read and hear answers to some common questions that patients with acromegaly have asked
Find an acromegaly patient support group in your country to find out about local activities and events that you may be able to attend
Information about the emotional, physical and social challenges of living with acromegaly