Cortisol Testing for Cushing’s: How to Catch a Sneaky Jerk in Action

Cushing’s can behave in one of two ways. The first kind is called “florid” Cushing’s. In this case, the tumor is a jerk all of the time. He is busy pumping out ACTH or cortisol (depending on his location) at all times of the day. Since this little guy has no sense of subtly he is relatively easy to catch – pretty much any time you test your cortisol, you are going to discover he is active and therefore your cortisol is abnormally high.

The second kind of Cushing’s is called “episodic” or “cyclic.” In episodic cases, the tumor is a real sneaky little jerk…

a tale of two tumors

Cushing’s can behave in one of two ways.  The first kind is called “florid” Cushing’s.  In this case, the tumor is a jerk all of the time.  He is busy pumping out ACTH or cortisol (depending on his location) at all times of the day.  Since this little guy has no sense of subtly he is relatively easy to catch – pretty much any time you test your cortisol, you are going to discover he is active and therefore your cortisol is abnormally high.

The second kind of Cushing’s is called “episodic” or “cyclic.”  In episodic cases, the tumor is a real sneaky little jerk.  He only spits out hormones once in awhile and although this sounds better in many ways than the florid jerks, it is a unique kind of hell in many other ways.  Episodic tumors put their host on a hormonal roller coaster, causing episodic patients to…

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