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Cushing syndrome due to adrenal tumor

Adrenal tumor - Cushing syndrome

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.

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Endocrine glands
Adrenal metastases, CT scan
Adrenal Tumor - CT

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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. This is a rare tumor, but it usually makes excess cortisol.

Symptoms

Most people with Cushing syndrome have:

Skin changes that are often seen:

Muscle and bone changes include:

Body-wide (systemic) changes include:

Women often have:

Men may have:

Other symptoms that may occur include:

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam and ask about your symptoms.

Tests to confirm Cushing syndrome:

Tests to determine cause or complications include:

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.

Related Information

Cushing syndrome
Adrenal glands
Cancer
ACTH blood test
Pituitary tumor
Ectopic Cushing syndrome
Chronic
Metastasis

References

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(8):2807-2831. PMID: 26222757 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/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; 2016:chap 15.

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Review Date: 5/7/2017  

Reviewed By: Brent Wisse, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Nutrition, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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