Cushing syndrome due to adrenal tumor

  • Definition
    • Cushing syndrome due to adrenal tumor is a form of Cushing syndrome. It occurs when a tumor of the adrenal gland releases excess amounts of the hormone cortisol.

  • Alternative Names
    • Adrenal tumor - Cushing syndrome

  • Causes
    • Cushing syndrome is a disorder that occurs when your body has a higher than normal level of the hormone cortisol. This hormone is made in the adrenal glands. Too much cortisol can be due to various problems. One such problem is a tumor on one of the adrenal glands. Adrenal tumors release cortisol.

      Adrenal tumors are rare. They can be noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant).

      Noncancerous tumors that can cause Cushing syndrome include:

      Cancerous tumors that may cause Cushing syndrome include an adrenal carcinoma.

  • Symptoms
    • Most people with Cushing syndrome have:

      • Round, red, full face (moon face)
      • Slow growth rate in children
      • Weight gain with fat accumulation on the trunk, but fat loss from the arms, legs, and buttocks (central obesity)

      Skin changes that are often seen:

      • Skin infections
      • Purple marks (1/2 inch or 1 centimeter or more wide), called striae, on the skin of the abdomen, thighs, and breasts
      • Thin skin with easy bruising

      Muscle and bone changes include:

      • Backache, which occurs with routine activities
      • Bone pain or tenderness
      • Collection of fat between the shoulders and above the collar bone
      • Rib and spine fractures caused by thinning of the bones
      • Weak muscles, especially of the hips and shoulders

      Women often have:

      • Excess hair growth on the face, neck, chest, abdomen, and thighs
      • Periods that become irregular or stop

      Men may have:

      Other symptoms that may occur include:

      • Mental changes, such as depression, anxiety, or changes in behavior
      • Fatigue
      • Headache
      • Increased thirst and urination
  • Exams and Tests
  • Treatment
    • Surgery is done to remove the adrenal tumor. Often, the entire adrenal gland is removed.

      Glucocorticoid replacement treatment is usually needed until the other adrenal gland recovers from surgery. You may need this treatment for 9 to 12 months.

      If surgery is not possible, such as in cases of adrenal cancer, medicines can be used to stop the release of cortisol.

  • Outlook (Prognosis)
    • People with an adrenal tumor who have surgery have an excellent outlook. For adrenal cancer, surgery is sometimes not possible. When surgery is performed, it does not always cure the cancer.

  • Possible Complications
    • Cancerous adrenal tumors can spread to the liver or lungs.

  • When to Contact a Medical Professional
    • Call your provider if you develop any symptoms of Cushing syndrome.

  • Prevention
    • Appropriate treatment of adrenal tumors may reduce the risk of complications in some people with tumor-related Cushing syndrome.

  • References
    • Ferri FF. Cushing's disease and syndrome. In: Ferri FF, ed. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2016. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2016:385-386.

      Nieman LK, Biller BM, Findling JW, et al. Treatment of Cushing's syndrome: an Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015;100:2807-2831. PMID: 26222757

      Schneider DF, Mazeh H, Lubner SJ, Jaume JC, Chen H. Cancer of the endocrine system. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 71.

      Stewart PM, Newell-Price JDC. The adrenal cortex. In: Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, Kronenberg HM, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 15.