BACKGROUND:Cushing’s disease is a form of Cushing’s syndrome that is caused by the pituitary gland producing too much adrenocorticotropic hormone, abbreviated to ACTH. ACTH causes the production and release of the stress hormone cortisol; so when the pituitary gland makes too much ACTH, then too much cortisol is also being produced in the body. Cortisol is helpful in stressful situations, but too much can lead to serious issues. If the problem is left untreated it can lead to things such as infections, psychosis, diabetes, kidney stones, high blood pressure, and eventually death. (Source: www.nlm.nih.gov)

 

SYMPTOMS: While symptoms of Cushing’s disease can often be mistaken for other issues, here are some signs to look out for:

  • Obesity in the upper body with thin arms and legs
  • Bone pain or tenderness
  • Irregular or stopped menstrual cycles in women
  • Impotence in men
  • Behavioral changes, depression, or anxiety (Source: www.nlm.nih.gov)

 

TREATMENT: In order to treat Cushing’s disease, the tumor on the pituitary gland that is causing the excess production of ACTH, and in turn excess cortisol, needs to be removed. This can be done by either surgically removing the tumor from the pituitary gland or using radiation on it. Once the tumor is gone, hopefully the pituitary gland will begin to function normally again. However, the tumor can grow back or be unresponsive to radiation and surgery; in this circumstance medications that stop the production of cortisol can be used. In severe cases where other treatments have not been able to help the patient, doctors may remove the adrenal glands in order to prevent the production of high amounts of cortisol. (Source: www.nlm.nih.gov


* For More Information, Contact:

 

Jackie Carr, Media Relations

University of California San Diego

jcarr@ucsd.edu