How old was she when she died?
Is that on the high end?
No. Most people who get a growth hormone secreting adenoma are adults. Children or adolescents that get a growth hormone-secreting tumor develop gigantism, in addition to the other problems associated with the excess growth hormone, because their bones have not stopped growing.
So, if you take your average adult who gets acromegaly--and say he has sleep apnea and hypertension and diabetes, if it's caught early enough, between three and five years, usually the hypertension and diabetes become easier to control. While a lot of the metabolic changes go away, the bony changes don't. What you'll see in someone with acromegaly is they get what's called frontal bossing [an enlarged forehead], prognathism--their jaw juts out--they get spreading of the teeth, they get enlarged hands and feet. Your height doesn't increase, but your shoe size and ring size goes up. Your tongues gets big; that's why you snore a lot and get sleep apnea. And then your organs get big.
How does the pituitary adenoma arise?
Most people with pituitary adenoma have a spontaneous [genetic] mutation. We don't really quite know what triggers them. There are some instances--there's something called multiple endocrine neoplasia, which is associated with familial pituitary tumors. But, that's pretty uncommon.