Cushing’s syndrome – A structured short- and long-term management plan for patients in remission

European Journal of Endocrinology, 08/30/2013  Review Article

harvey-bookRagnarsson O et al. – One–hundred years have passed since Harvey Williams Cushing presented the first patient with the syndrome that bears his name.

The focus of the long–term specialized care should be to identify cognitive impairments and psychiatric disorders, evaluate cardiovascular risk, follow pituitary function and to detect possible recurrence of Cushing’s syndrome.


Source

O Ragnarsson, Department of Endocrinology, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Abstract

One-hundred years have passed since Harvey Williams Cushing presented the first patient with the syndrome that bears his name. In patients with Cushing’s syndrome body composition, lipid-, carbohydrate- and protein-metabolism is dramatically affected and psychopathology and cognitive dysfunction is frequently observed.

Untreated patients with Cushing’s syndrome have a grave prognosis with an estimated five-year survival of only 50%. Remission can be achieved by surgery, radiotherapy and sometimes with medical therapy.

Recent data indicate that the adverse metabolic consequences of Cushing’s syndrome are present for years after successful treatment. In addition, recent studies have demonstrated that health related quality of life and cognitive function is impaired in patients with Cushing’s syndrome in long-term remission.

The focus of specialized care should therefore not only be on the diagnostic work-up and the early post-operative management, but also the long-term follow-up.

In this paper we review the long-term consequences in patients with Cushing’s syndrome in remission with focus on the neuropsychological effects and discuss the importance of these findings for long-term management. We also discuss three different phases in the postoperative management of surgically treated patients with Cushing’s syndrome, each phase distinguished by specific challenges; the immediate post-operative phase, the glucocorticoid dose tapering phase and the long-term management. The focus of the long-term specialized care should be to identify cognitive impairments and psychiatric disorders, evaluate cardiovascular risk, follow pituitary function and to detect possible recurrence of Cushing’s syndrome.

PMID:
23985132
[PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

From http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23985132

Cushing’s Disease – Rare Disease Quick Facts

cushings-diagnosis

 

 

Cushing’s disease is a rare condition due to excess cortisol levels that result from a pituitary tumor secreting adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which stimulates cortisol secretion.  Cushing’s disease should not be confused with Cushing’s syndrome which is increased cortisol levels but that increase can be due to any number of factors. However, Cushing’s disease is the most common form of Cushing’s syndrome.

Symptoms

The symptoms related to Cushing’s disease and Cushing’s syndrome are the same, since both are related to an excess of cortisol. Also, symptoms vary extensively among patients and that, with the inherent fluctuation in hormone levels make it difficult to diagnosis both conditions.

Changes in physical characteristics of the body

  • Fullness and rounding of the face
  • Added fat on back of neck (so-called “buffalo hump”)
  • Easy bruising
  • Purplish stretch marks on the abdomen (abdominal striae)
  • Excessive weight gain, especially in abdominal region
  • Red cheeks
  • Excess hair growth on the face, neck, chest, abdomen and thighs

Changes in physiology/psychology

  • Generalized weakness and fatigue
  • Menstrual disorder
  • Decreased fertility and/or sex drive
  • High blood pressure that is often difficult to treat
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Mood and behavior disorders

Diagnosis

The early stages of Cushing’s disease may be difficult to recognize. However, if it is suspected, diagnosis is generally a 2 stage process. First to determine if cortisol levels are high, and if so, why they are high.

Tests to confirm high cortisol levels:

  • 24-hour urine cortisol
  • Dexamethasone suppression test (low dose)

Tests to determine cause:

  • Blood ACTH level
  • Brain MRI
  • Corticotropin-releasing hormone test
  • Dexamethasone suppression test (high dose)
  • Petrosal sinus sampling

Treatment

Surgery

  • Most patients with Cushing’s disease undergo surgery to remove the pituitary adenoma offers.
  • If the tumor is isolated to the pituitary, cure rates of 80-85% are common.
  • If the tumor has spread to nearby organs, cure rates of 50-55% are common.

Medicine (approved orphan drugs)

Signifor (pasireotide)

  • Approved for patients with Cushing’s disease for whom pituitary is not an option or surgery has been ineffective.
  • Signifor is a somatostatin receptor agonist that leads to inhibition of ACTY secretion (and subsequently decreased cortisol levels).

Korlym (mifepristone)

  • Approved for patients with Cushing’s syndrome who have type 2 diabetes or glucose intolerance and have failed surgery (or not candidates for surgery).
  • Korlym is a glucocorticoid receptor antagonist which in turn blocks the effects of the high levels of cortisol in the body. Korlym is used to treat high glucose levels due to elevated cortisol.

Medicines used but not indicated for Cushing’s disease include

Mitoden

ketoconazole

Metyrapone

Etomidate

Radiation

  • Radiation therapy may be used in some patients and can be very effective in controlling the growth of these tumors.

Prognosis

In most cases, treatment can cure Cushing’s disease. If not treated properly, the chronic hypercortisolism can lead to excess morbidity and mortality due to increased cardiovascular and other risk factors.

For more information

National Library of Medicine, National Institute of Health

Cushing’s Disease Information (provided by Novartis Pharmaceuticals)

 

Images courtesy of the open access journal Orhanet Journal for Rare Diseases.  Castinetti et al. Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2012 7:41   doi:10.1186/1750-1172-7-41

– See more at: http://www.raredr.com/front-page-medicine/articles/cushings-disease-rare-disease-quick-facts-0

Cushing’s Syndrome is Hazardous to Your Health

morbidity

People with Cushing’s syndrome, even when treated, have higher morbidity and mortality rates that comparable controls. That is the conclusion of a new study published in the June issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology Metabolism. The study by Olaf Dekkers et al, examined data records from the Danish National Registry of Patients and the Danish Civil Registration System of 343 patients with benign Cushing’s syndrome of adrenal or pituitary origin (i.e., Cushing’s disease) and a matched population comparison cohort (n=34,300).  Due to the lengthy delay of many patients being diagnosed with Cushing’s syndrome, morbidity was investigated in the 3 years before diagnosis while  morbidity and mortality were assessed during complete follow-up after diagnosis and treatment.

The study found that mortality was twice as high in Cushing’s syndrome patients (HR 2.3, 95% CI 1.8-2.9) compared with controls over a mean follow-up period of 12.1 years. Furthermore, patients with Cushing’s syndrome were at increased risk for:

  • venous thromboembolism (HR 2.6, 95% CI 1.5-4.7)
  • myocardial infarction (HR 3.7, 95% CI 2.4-5.5)
  • stroke (HR 2.0, 95% CI 1.3-3.2)
  • peptic ulcers (HR 2.0, 95% CI 1.1-3.6)
  • fractures (HR 1.4, 95% CI 1.0-1.9)
  • infections (HR 4.9, 95% CI 3.7-6.4).

The study also found that this increased multimorbidity risk was present before diagnosis indicating that it was due to cortisol overproduction rather than treatment.

Many of the Cushing’s syndrome patients underwent surgery to remove the benign tumor. For this group, the investigators performed a sensitivity analysis of the  long-term mortality and cardiovascular risk in this  subgroup (n=186)  considered to be cured after operation (adrenal surgery and patients with pituitary surgery in combination with a diagnosis of hypopituitarism in the first 6 months after operation).  The risk estimates for mortality (HR 2.31, 95% CI 1.62-3.28), venous thromboembolism (HR 2.03, 95% CI 0.75-5.48), stroke (HR 1.91, 95% CI 0.90-4.05), and acute myocardial infarction (HR 4.38, 95% CI 2.31-8.28) were also increased in this subgroup one year after the operation.

The standard treatment for endogenous Cushing’s syndrome is surgery. This past year, Signifor (pasireotide) was approved for treatment of adults patients with Cushing’s disease for whom pituitary surgery is not an option or has not been curative.  Cushing’s disease, which accounts for the majority of Cushing’s syndrome patients, is defined as the presence of an ACTH producing tumor on the pituitary grand. In the study by Dekker’s et al, the percentage of patients with Cushing’s disease is not known. We look forward to reexamination of this dataset in a few years following the introduction of more treatment options for Cushing’s disease as well as an analysis that explores the differences in mortality/morbidity rates in the different subsets of patients that make of Cushing’s syndrome (Cushing’s disease, ectopic Cushing’s syndrome, Exogenous Cyshing’s syndrome).

References

Dekkers OM, Horvath-Pujo, Jorgensen JOL, et al, Multisystem morbidity and mortality in Cushing’s syndrome: a cohort study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2013 98(6): 2277–2284. doi: 10.1210/jc.2012-3582

– See more at: http://www.raredr.com/medicine/articles/cushing%E2%80%99s-syndrome-hazardous-your-health-0

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