Pituitary Innovation and Teaching

Cushing's Disease

Video transcript

Speaker: Dr. Michael Cusimano

Now the least common of the secreting kinds of tumors are tumors that produce a kind of hormone called ACTH. Now, ACTH acts on a gland called the adrenal gland which sits above the kidneys and the adrenal gland produces coritsol hormone. The cortisol hormone is an energy type hormone that is responsible for our daily metabolism.

Now if these tumors secrete too much of this hormone the commonest symptoms would be weight gain and particularly around the central girth. It would often cause hair growth on the face. It can cause disturbance in a woman of her menstrual period. It very commonly leads to emotional or even psychiatric problems - the commonest of these would be anxiety and depression. The weight gain can also be associated with a flushing of the face so that the cheeks become very red, face becomes rounded. You can develop deposits of fat at the back of neck or here -┬ájust above the collar bones. You can get stretch marks and they’re different than the stretch marks that are obtained in pregnancy in that they tend to be purplish in color as opposed to whitish. Can get darkening of the skin, particularly in the underarms.

You can get a whole series of symptoms associated with excessive cortisol production and this syndrome is called Cushing syndrome. And that’s the least common of the types of secreting tumors but it can be having very significant side effects. For example, people with Cushing syndrome or Cushing's disease where the syndrome is caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland can develop very brittle diabetes. And with brittle diabetes heart disease can progress very rapidly, they can develop high blood pressure. They can die of things like premature heart attacks. So the prognosis with something like Cushing's is about equal to that of breast cancer. So, we can need to treat those as well.


Page last updated: June 3, 2016