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June 13, 1994

High Prevalence of Colonic Polyps in Patients With Acromegaly: Influence of Sex and Age

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Clinical and Biological Sciences, Chair of Internal Medicine, University of Turin (Italy) (Drs Terzolo, Tappero, Pia, Reimondo, Boccuzzi, Rovero, Paccotti, and Angeli); and Division of Endocrinology, S. Croce Hospital, Cuneo, Italy (Drs Borretta, Asnaghi, and Cesario).

Arch Intern Med. 1994;154(11):1272-1276. doi:10.1001/archinte.1994.00420110120013

Background:  An association between acromegaly and colonic polyps has been reported, although risk factors are still uncertain.

Methods:  Full colonoscopy was performed with a fiberoptic colonoscope on 31 acromegalic patients, 11 men and 20 women aged 27 to 85 years (mean, 52.2 years), and on 236 subjects, 127 men and 109 women aged 23 to 84 years (mean, 50.1 years), referred for hemorrhoids, who were considered controls. The colonoscopic findings were evaluated in relation to demographic, clinical, and hormonal data pertaining to the two groups.

Results:  The prevalence of either adenomatous or hyperplastic polyps was higher in acromegalic patients than in controls (38% vs 14% and 26% vs 10%, respectively; P<.001, respectively). Acromegalics with and without colonic adenomas did not differ significantly in growth hormone and insulinlike growth factor I levels or duration of acromegalic disease and its status (activity or remission); however, patients with adenoma were younger (median age, 50.5 vs 59 years; range, 27 to 85 years vs 39 to 66 years; P<.05). An opposite age pattern was observed in the control group. Indeed, the prevalence of adenoma in acromegalic patients was much higher than that in controls among those less than 50 years of age (46% vs 7%, P<.001); the difference was less remarkable at older ages. Adenomatous polyps were more frequently found in male subjects, in both patients and controls (45% vs 33% [not significant] and 19% vs 9% [P<.05], respectively).

Conclusions:  Acromegaly may carry an increased risk of colonic adenoma, especially in younger patients, who usually display more aggressive disease. A smaller increase in risk was observed in elderly patients, in whom disease is reportedly milder. We suggest that acromegalic patients should undergo screening colonoscopy.(Arch Intern Med. 1994;154:1272-1276)

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