What is Cushing syndrome?

What is Cushing syndrome?

Cushing syndrome is a rare benign or non-cancerous tumor. This syndrome affects both men and women, but it has a higher frequency in women. It results from excess cortisol production (endogenous) as a result of tumor growth in the pituitary gland in the brain or adrenal gland above the kidneys. Additionally, people that take cortisol for a long time may develop Cushing.

There are four (4) physical signs for Cushing syndrome:

  1. Buffalo hump a result of fats build-up on the back of the neck and shoulders
  2. Moon face or puffy red rounded
  3. Increased both tummy and chest fats with slim arms and legs
  4. Skin pink or purple stretch marks

Additionally, Cushing patients suffer from several symptoms including:

  1. Headache
  2. Depression
  3. Blood pressure
  4. Fatigue
  5. Muscle weakness
  6. Skin pigmentation
  7. Bone fractures over time
  8. Impaired growth in children

Cushing syndrome diagnosis is not a straightforward one, especially if it is endogenous. Physical signs can’t be missed by specialized physicians despite being a rare disease. To confirm Cushing syndrome several tests could be requested by treating physician like:

  1. Cortisol urine and blood tests
  2. Cortisol saliva test.
  3. Imaging tests.
  4. Petrosal sinus sampling to localize the source of cortisol

Treatment of Cushing syndrome depends on the cortisol source, if it is the exogenous source as a result of medication intake, the physician will stop the medication. If it endogenous due to a tumor in the pituitary gland or adrenal, the treating physician will select a combination approach depending on the case itself and age.

  1. Surgery
  2. Radiotherapy
  3. Medication like Signifor which is an FDA approved medication.