Research Article

Mortality, neoplasia, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in patients treated with human pituitary growth hormone in the United Kingdom.

BMJ 1991; 302 doi: (Published 06 April 1991) Cite this as: BMJ 1991;302:824
  1. C R Buchanan,
  2. M A Preece,
  3. R D Milner
  1. Department of Growth and Development, Institute of Child Health, London.


    OBJECTIVE--To determine the cause of death and incidence of neoplasia in patients treated with human pituitary growth hormone. DESIGN--A long term cohort study established to receive details of death certification and tumour registrations through the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys and NHS central register. PATIENTS--All patients (1246 male, 662 female) treated for short stature with pituitary growth hormone under the Medical Research Council working party and health services human growth hormone committee. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Death or development of neoplasia. RESULTS--110 patients died (68 male, 42 female; aged 0.9-57 years) from 1972 to 1990. Fifty three death were from neoplasia responsible for growth hormone deficiency (27 craniopharyngioma, 24 other intracranial tumour, two leukaemia); two from histiocytosis X; and 13 from pituitary insufficiency. Six patients died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, six of other neurological disorders, and eight of acute infection. Other deaths were apparently unrelated to growth hormone deficiency or its treatment. Seventeen tumours (in 16 patients) were identified during or after growth hormone treatment. Four were in patients with previous intracranial neoplasia and two were after cranial irradiation. Thirteen were intracranial, the others being Hodgkin's lymphoma, osteosarcoma, carcinoma of colon, and basal cell carcinoma. CONCLUSIONS--Recurrence or progression of intracranial tumours and potentially avoidable metabolic consequences of hypopituitarism were the main causes of death. Growth hormone treatment probably did not contribute to new tumour development. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease after pituitary growth hormone treatment continues to occur in the United Kingdom. This cohort must remain under long term review.