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Cushing's syndrome is a rare problem that happens when you have too much of the hormone cortisol in your body. Cortisol is especially important in controlling blood pressure and metabolism. But it affects almost every area of your body. Normally, your body keeps cortisol in in balance through a complex system that involves your hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands.
Stanford is a global referral center for the diagnosis and management of Cushing’s disease with novel medications and pioneering surgical approaches for the pituitary gland.
Surgery to remove the tumor offers the best chance for recovery. This surgery requires great skill and should be done at a major medical center where doctors specialize in pituitary surgery.
If surgery to remove the tumor was previously unsuccessful, you may have other options to consider such as medicine, radiation, or surgery to remove the adrenal glands. You and your doctor can talk about the pros and cons of each option.
If an adrenal tumor is the cause:
Surgery to remove the tumor is usually done if the tumor is not cancer (benign). If the tumor is cancer, the whole gland is removed.
Medicine may be tried if surgery isn't an option.
If a tumor of the lungs or another organ is the cause, the tumor will be removed or treated with radiation or medicines.
Cushing's Disease and Negative MRI Patients with Cushing’s disease often present with a “negative” MRI study, showing no evidence of tumor. A highly experienced pituitary surgeon is often able to detect the presence of a tumor during surgical exploration of the pituiatry gland.
Treatment for Ectopic Cushing’s Syndrome If the evaluation suggests the presence of ectopic Cushing's syndrome, then the treatment is directed to the source. For example, if a carcinoid tumor in the lung is detected, then there are several options for therapy, including surgical excision.
Treatment for Adrenal Growth If an adrenal growth is the underlying cause, then surgical removal of the abnormal adrenal gland is necessary.
Clinical Trials for Cushing’s Syndrome (Cushing’s Disease)
Clinical trials evaluate new approaches, devices, or medications in the treatment of Cushing’s Disease. Ask your doctor or clinical trials coordinator about available trials that may be additional options for your care.
To learn more about the clinical trials we offer, contact Maria Coburn at 650-736-9551.
Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.
Cushing's syndrome is a rare problem that happens when you have too much of the hormone cortisol in your body. Cortisol is especially important in controlling blood pressure and metabolism. But it affects almost every area of your body.
Normally, your body keeps the level of cortisol in balance through a complex system that involves three glands: hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands.
When your cortisol level gets low, a part of the brain called the hypothalamus releases a hormone called CRH. CRH tells the pituitary gland, located beneath the brain, to make a hormone called ACTH. ACTH triggers the adrenal glands, which sit above the kidneys, to release cortisol. If something upsets this system, your cortisol level can get too high. If it's high for too long, it can cause symptoms and can lead to serious problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, and osteoporosis.