Cushing Death Rate ‘Unacceptable,’ Triple That of General Population

Excess mortality among people with endogenous Cushing syndrome (CS) has declined in the past 20 years yet remains three times higher than in the general population, new research finds.

Among more than 90,000 individuals with endogenous CS, the overall proportion of mortality ― defined as the ratio of the number of deaths from CS divided by the total number of CS patients ― was 0.05, and the standardized mortality rate was an “unacceptable” three times that of the general population, Padiporn Limumpornpetch, MD, reported on March 20 at ENDO 2021: The Endocrine Society Annual Meeting.

Excess deaths were higher among those with adrenal CS compared to those with Cushing disease. The most common causes of death among those with CS were cardiovascular diseases, cerebrovascular accident, infection, and malignancy, noted Limumpornpetch, of Songkla University, Hat Yai, Thailand, who is also a PhD student at the University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom.

“While mortality has improved since 2000, it is still significantly compromised compared to the background population…. The causes of death highlight the need for aggressive management of cardiovascular risk, prevention of thromboembolism, infection control, and a normalized cortisol level,” she said.

Asked to comment, Maria Fleseriu, MD, told Medscape Medical News that the new data show “we are making improvements in the care of patients with CS and thus outcomes, but we are not there yet…. This meta-analysis highlights the whole spectrum of acute and life-threatening complications in CS and their high prevalence, even before disease diagnosis and after successful surgery.”

She noted that although she wasn’t surprised by the overall results, “the improvement over time was indeed lower than I expected. However, interestingly here, the risk of mortality in adrenal Cushing was unexpectedly high despite patients with adrenal cancer being excluded.”

Fleseriu, who is director of the Pituitary Center at Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon, advised, “Management of hyperglycemia and diabetes, hypertension, hypokalemia, hyperlipidemia, and other cardiovascular risk factors is generally undertaken in accordance with standard of clinical care.

“But we should focus more on optimizing more aggressively this care in addition to the specific Cushing treatment,” she stressed.

In addition, she noted, “Medical therapy for CS may be needed even prior to surgery in severe and/or prolonged hypercortisolism to decrease complications…. We definitely need a multidisciplinary approach to address complications and etiologic treatment as well as the reduced long-term quality of life in patients with CS.”

Largest Study in Scale and Scope of Cushing Syndrome Mortality

Endogenous Cushing syndrome occurs when the body overproduces cortisol. The most common cause of the latter is a tumor of the pituitary gland (Cushing disease), but another cause is a usually benign tumor of the adrenal glands (adrenal Cushing syndrome). Surgery is the mainstay of initial treatment of Cushing syndrome. If an operation to remove the tumor fails to cause remission, medications are available.

Prior to this new meta-analysis, there had been limited data on mortality among patients with endogenous CS. Research has mostly been limited to single-cohort studies. A previous systematic review/meta-analysis comprised only seven articles with 780 patients. All the studies were conducted prior to 2012, and most were limited to Cushing disease.

“In 2021, we lacked a detailed understanding of patient outcomes and mortality because of the rarity of Cushing syndrome,” Limumpornpetch noted.

The current meta-analysis included 91 articles that reported mortality among patients with endogenous CS. There was a total of 19,181 patients from 92 study cohorts, including 49 studies on CD (n = 14,971), 24 studies on adrenal CS (n = 2304), and 19 studies that included both CS types (n = 1906).

Among 21 studies that reported standardized mortality rate (SMR) data, including 13 CD studies (n = 2160) and seven on adrenal CS (n = 1531), the overall increase in mortality compared to the background population was a significant 3.00 (range, 1.15 – 7.84).

This SMR was higher among patients with adrenal Cushing syndrome (3.3) vs Cushing disease (2.8) (= .003) and among patients who had active disease (5.7) vs those whose disease was in remission (2.3) (< .001).

The SMR also was worse among patients with Cushing disease with larger tumors (macroadenomas), at 7.4, than among patients with very small tumors (microadenomas), at 1.9 (= .004).

The proportion of death was 0.05 for CS overall, with 0.04 for CD and 0.02 for adrenal adenomas.

Compared to studies published prior to the year 2000, more recent studies seem to reflect advances in treatment and care. The overall proportion of death for all CS cohorts dropped from 0.10 to 0.03 (P < .001); for all CD cohorts, it dropped from 0.14 to 0.03; and for adrenal CS cohorts, it dropped from 0.09 to 0.03 (P = .04).

Causes of death were cardiovascular diseases (29.5% of cases), cerebrovascular accident (11.5%), infection (10.5%), and malignancy (10.1%). Less common causes of death were gastrointestinal bleeding and acute pancreatitis (3.7%), active CS (3.5%), adrenal insufficiency (2.5%), suicide (2.5%), and surgery (1.6%).

Overall, in the CS groups, the proportion of deaths within 30 days of surgery dropped from 0.04 prior to 2000 to 0.01 since (P = .07). For CD, the proportion dropped from 0.02 to 0.01 (P = .25).

Preventing Perioperative Mortality: Consider Thromboprophylaxis

Fleseriu told Medscape Medical News that she believes hypercoagulability is “the least recognized complication with a big role in mortality.” Because most of the perioperative mortality is due to venous thromboembolism and infections, “thromboprophylaxis should be considered for CS patients with severe hypercortisolism and/or postoperatively, based on individual risk factors of thromboembolism and bleeding.”

Recently, Fleseriu’s group showed in a single retrospective study that the risk for arterial and venous thromboembolic events among patients with CS was approximately 20%. Many patients experienced more than one event. Risk was higher 30 to 60 days postoperatively.

The odds ratio of venous thromoboembolism among patients with CS was 18 times higher than in the normal population.

“Due to the additional thrombotic risk of surgery or any invasive procedure, anticoagulation prophylaxis should be at least considered in all patients with Cushing syndrome and balanced with individual bleeding risk,” Fleseriu advised.

A recent Pituitary Society workshop discussed the management of complications of CS at length; proceedings will be published soon, she noted.

Limumpornpetch commented, “We look forward to the day when our interdisciplinary approach to managing these challenging patients can deliver outcomes similar to the background population.”

Limumpornpetch has disclosed no relevant financial relationships. Fleseriu has been a scientific consultant to Recordati, Sparrow, and Strongbridge and has received grants (inst) from Novartis and Strongbridge.

ENDO 2021: The Endocrine Society Annual Meeting: Presented March 20, 2021

Miriam E. Tucker is a freelance journalist based in the Washington, DC, area. She is a regular contributor to Medscape. Other work of hers has appeared in the Washington Post, NPR’s Shots blog, and Diabetes Forecast magazine. She can be found on Twitter @MiriamETucker.

From https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/949257

Mortality rate in Cushing’s syndrome ‘unacceptably high’

A large study of mortality in Cushing’s syndrome calculated a threefold higher mortality rate for these patients, with cerebrovascular and atherosclerotic vascular diseases and infection accounting for 50% of deaths, researchers reported.

“[We have seen] improvement in outcome since 2000, but mortality is still unacceptably high,” Padiporn Limumpornpetch, MD, an endocrinologist at Prince of Songkla University in Thailand and PhD student at the University of Leeds, U.K., told Healio during the ENDO annual meeting. “The mortality outcome has shown an unacceptable standardized mortality rate of 3:1, with poorer outcomes in patients with adrenal Cushing’s [and] active and larger tumors in Cushing’s disease.”

Atherosclerotic vascular disease was the top cause of death in Cushing’s disease, with infection coming in as the second-highest cause of death. Data were derived from Limumpornpetch P. OR04-4. Presented at: ENDO annual meeting; March 20-23, 2021 (virtual meeting).

For a meta-analysis and meta-regression analysis of cause of death among patients with benign endogenous Cushing’s syndrome, Limumpornpetch and colleagues reviewed data published from 1952 to January 2021 from 92 study cohorts with 19,181 patients that reported mortality rates, including 66 studies that reported causes of death.

The researchers calculated the standardized mortality rate (SMR) for Cushing’s syndrome at 3 (95% CI, 2.3-3.9). For patients with adrenal Cushing’s syndrome, SMR was 3.3 (95% CI, 0.5-6.6) — higher than for those with Cushing’s disease, with an SMR of 2.8 (95% CI, 2.1-3.7). Rates were similar by sex and by type of adrenal tumor.

Deaths occurring within 30 days of surgery for Cushing’s syndrome fell to 3% after 2000 from 10% before that date (P < .005). During the entire study period, atherosclerotic vascular disease accounted for 27.4% of deaths in Cushing’s syndrome, and 12.7% were attributable to infection, 11.7% to cerebrovascular diseases, 10.6% to malignancy, 4.4% to thromboembolism, 2.9% to active disease, 3% to adrenal insufficiency and 2.2% to suicide.

“We look forward to the day when our interdisciplinary approach to managing these challenging patients can deliver outcomes similar to the background population,” Limumpornpetch said.

From https://www.healio.com/news/endocrinology/20210322/mortality-rate-in-cushings-syndrome-unacceptably-high

Largest-ever analysis of its kind finds Cushing’s syndrome triples risk of death

WASHINGTON–Endogenous Cushing’s syndrome, a rare hormonal disorder, is associated with a threefold increase in death, primarily due to cardiovascular disease and infection, according to a study whose results will be presented at ENDO 2021, the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting.

The research, according to the study authors, is the largest systematic review and meta-analysis to date of studies of endogenous (meaning “inside your body”) Cushing’s syndrome. Whereas Cushing’s syndrome most often results from external factors–taking cortisol-like medications such as prednisone–the endogenous type occurs when the body overproduces the hormone cortisol, affecting multiple bodily systems.

Accurate data on the mortality and specific causes of death in people with endogenous Cushing’s syndrome are lacking, said the study’s lead author, Padiporn Limumpornpetch, M.D., an endocrinologist from Prince of Songkla University, Thailand and Ph.D. student at the University of Leeds in Leeds, U.K. The study analyzed death data from more than 19,000 patients in 92 studies published through January 2021.

“Our results found that death rates have fallen since 2000 but are still unacceptably high,” Limumpornpetch said.

Cushing’s syndrome affects many parts of the body because cortisol responds to stress, maintains blood pressure and cardiovascular function, regulates blood sugar and keeps the immune system in check. The most common cause of endogenous Cushing’s syndrome is a tumor of the pituitary gland called Cushing’s disease, but another cause is a usually benign tumor of the adrenal glands called adrenal Cushing’s syndrome. All patients in this study had noncancerous tumors, according to Limumpornpetch.

Overall, the proportion of death from all study cohorts was 5 percent, the researchers reported. The standardized mortality ratio–the ratio of observed deaths in the study group to expected deaths in the general population matched by age and sex–was 3:1, indicating a threefold increase in deaths, she stated.

This mortality ratio was reportedly higher in patients with adrenal Cushing’s syndrome versus Cushing’s disease and in patients who had active disease versus those in remission. The standardized mortality ratio also was worse in patients with Cushing’s disease with larger tumors versus very small tumors (macroadenomas versus microadenomas).

On the positive side, mortality rates were lower after 2000 versus before then, which Limumpornpetch attributed to advances in diagnosis, operative techniques and medico-surgical care.

More than half of observed deaths were due to heart disease (24.7 percent), infections (14.4 percent), cerebrovascular diseases such as stroke or aneurysm (9.4 percent) or blood clots in a vein, known as thromboembolism (4.2 percent).

“The causes of death highlight the need for aggressive management of cardiovascular risk, prevention of thromboembolism and good infection control and emphasize the need to achieve disease remission, normalizing cortisol levels,” she said.

Surgery is the mainstay of initial treatment of Cushing’s syndrome. If an operation to remove the tumor fails to put the disease in remission, other treatments are available, such as medications.

Study co-author Victoria Nyaga, Ph.D., of the Belgian Cancer Centre in Brussels, Belgium, developed the Metapreg statistical analysis program used in this study.

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The Society has more than 18,000 members, including scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in 122 countries. To learn more about the Society and the field of endocrinology, visit our site at http://www.endocrine.org. Follow us on Twitter at @TheEndoSociety and @EndoMedia.

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From https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-03/tes-lao031621.php

Endocrine testing in obesity

Affiliations expand

Abstract

Endocrine disorders such as Cushing’s syndrome and hypothyroidism may cause weight gain and exacerbate metabolic dysfunction in obesity. Other forms of endocrine dysfunction, particularly gonadal dysfunction (predominantly testosterone deficiency in men and polycystic ovarian syndrome in women), and abnormalities of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, the growth hormone-IGF-1 system and vitamin D deficiency are common in obesity. As a result, endocrinologists may be referred people with obesity for endocrine testing and asked to consider treatment with various hormones. A recent systematic review and associated guidance from the European Society of Endocrinology provide a useful evidence summary and clear guidelines on endocrine testing and treatment in people with obesity. With the exception of screening for hypothyroidism, most endocrine testing is not recommended in the absence of clinical features of endocrine syndromes in obesity, and likewise hormone treatment is rarely needed. These guidelines should help reduce unnecessary endocrine testing in those referred for assessment of obesity and encourage clinicians to support patients with their attempts at weight loss, which if successful has a good chance of correcting any endocrine dysfunction.

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HRA Pharma Rare Diseases funds online hub for Cushing’s Syndrome

This sounds a lot like what we have been doing for the last 20 years…

HRA Pharma Rare Diseases, an affiliate of global consumer healthcare company HRA Pharma, has announced it is funding an online platform containing information and news on Cushing’s Syndrome.

The ‘Cushing’s Hub’, developed by Springer Healthcare Education, is set to make all information on the rare condition available in one place for medical professionals to access.

Cushing’s Syndrome affects less than one in 10,000 people in the EU, and is categorised as a rare and severe condition caused by prolonged high levels of cortisol in the blood.

The new hub is managed by an independent editorial board consisting of three international Cushing’s Syndrome experts – Professor Frédéric Castinetti from France, Dr Niki Karavitaki from the UK and Associate Professor Dr Greisa Vila from Austria.

According to HRA Pharma Rare Diseases, the ‘Cushing’s Hub’ is the first online platform dedicated to all aspects of the rare condition.

“As a company which is dedicated to improving the lives of those with rare diseases, we felt it was crucial to support the development of a platform that can help healthcare professionals in the diagnosis, management and follow up of Cushing’s Syndrome. We are confident the platform will help improve the lives of many,” said Evelina Paberžė, COO of HRA Pharma Rare Diseases.

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