Gigantism: What Is It?

Gigantism is a medical condition resulting from an excessive secretion of growth hormone from the pituitary gland in childhood resulting in an abnormally tall adult height. It is also known as giantism. The condition is caused by a non-cancerous tumor on the pituitary gland, called a pituitary adenoma.

The average adult male is 5'10'' and an average female is 5'5''. Those with gigantism grow over 7'5'' tall. The condition is very rare and it is estimated that less than 200 cases of gigantism have been reported world-wide.

Symptoms of Gigantism

The symptoms of gigantism vary from person to person, but the most common include:

  • Rapid Growth After Puberty.
  • Oversized Body Parts.
  • Broadened Hands and Feet.
  • Abnormally Large Head.
  • Weakening of Bones.
  • High Blood Pressure.
  • Developing Diabetes.
  • Enlarged Tongue.
  • Thick Facial Features.
  • Anxiety or Depression.

Diagnose and Treatment

Gigantism can be diagnosed through a physical examination, blood tests, and genetic testing. Treatment for gigantism must address both the abnormal levels of growth hormone and what is causing the overproduction. The primary treatments for gigantism are surgery, radiation, and medication.

Surgical treatment involves the removal of a non-cancerous tumor from the pituitary gland. Radiation therapy is used to kill the tumor cells. Medication can be used to reduce the secretion of the growth hormone.


The side effects of gigantism can range from psychological and emotional issues, such as anxiety or depression, to physical complications, such as weakened bones, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Without treatment, gigantism can lead to a shortened lifespan.