Also known as: Adrenal tumor - Cushing syndrome
- Adrenal adenomas
- Micronodular hyperplasia
- 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 infections
- Purple marks (1/2 inch or more wide), called striae, on the skin of the abdomen, thighs, and breasts
- Thin skin with easy bruising
- 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
- Excess hair growth on the face, neck, chest, abdomen, and thighs
- Periods that become irregular or stop
- Decreased or no desire for sex
- Erection problems
- Mental changes, such as depression, anxiety, or changes in behavior
- Increased thirst and urination
- 24-hour urine sample to measure cortisol and creatinine levels
- Blood tests to check ACTH, cortisol, and potassium levels
- Dexamethasone suppression test
- Blood cortisol levels
- Blood DHEA level
- Saliva cortisol level
- Abdominal CT
- Bone mineral density
- Fasting glucose
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.
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.
Most people with Cushing syndrome have:
Skin changes that are often seen:
Muscle and bone 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:
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.
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.
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.
Appropriate treatment of adrenal tumors may reduce the risk of complications in some people with tumor-related Cushing syndrome.
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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 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 Saunders; 2016:chap 15.
- Review date:
- December 07, 2016
- 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, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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