Could you Shed Some Light on Cushing’s Disease?

Dear Dr. Roach: Could you shed some light on Cushing’s disease? Four people in the same family have it. The doctors say it has something to do with the thyroid gland.

— Anon.

A: Cushing’s syndrome, which is different from Cushing’s disease, is an excess of cortisone or similar corticosteroids. It can be caused by taking too much steroid for too long, usually as treatment for a serious medical condition. Cushing’s disease is a special case of Cushing’s syndrome, when the excess cortisone is caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland, which spurs the adrenal gland to make excess amounts of hormone. Weight gain, almost exclusively in the abdomen, a striking round “moon” face, a fat pad on the back of the neck and upper back (“buffalo hump”), diabetes, pigmented stretch marks and high blood pressure are common findings in any form of Cushing’s syndrome.

It is very unusual for Cushing’s disease to run in families. Also, it does not affect the thyroid, although thyroid conditions can sometimes mimic Cushing’s (and vice versa). I suspect that what this might be is a rare condition called multiple endocrine neoplasia type I (MEN-1). This does run in families, and combines risk for pituitary, parathyroid and pancreatic islet cell tumors. (The parathyroid glands sit on top of the thyroid gland and secrete parathyroid hormone, responsible for calcium metabolism. The pancreatic islet cells are where insulin is made.) Not everybody with MEN-1 will have tumors in all of these glands. Parathyroid tumors are the most common.

An endocrinologist is the expert in Cushing’s and the MEN syndromes.

​Dr. Keith Roach writes for North America Syndicate. Send letters to Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475 or email ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu.

From http://herald-review.com/news/opinion/editorial/columnists/roach/dr-keith-roach-teeth-grinding-is-common-in-the-elderly/article_bef63ba4-9b5e-5bff-b66a-3530be158857.html

Cushing’s Awareness Challenge, Day 3: Symptoms

robin-symptoms

 

Robin has made another excellent graphic of some of the symptoms of Cushing’s.  There are far too many to be listed in any image, as shown by the list at http://www.cushings-help.com/toc.htm#symptoms

 

Just to be silly, a few years ago, I did my own version of Cushing’s symptoms:

 

The Seven Dwarves of Cushing's

Are you carrying adrenal Cushing’s syndrome without knowing it?

Genetic research that will be published tomorrow in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests to Dr. André Lacroix, professor at the University of Montreal, that clinicians’ understanding and treatment of a form of Cushing’s syndrome affecting both adrenal glands will be fundamentally changed, and that moreover, it might be appropriate to begin screening for the genetic mutations that cause this form of the disease.

“Screening family members of bilateral adrenal Cushing’s syndrome patients with  may identify affected silent carriers,” Lacroix said in an editorial in the Journal. “The development of drugs that interrupt the defective genetic chemical link that causes the syndrome could, if confirmed to be effective in people, provide individualized specific therapies for hypercortisolism, eliminate the current practice of removing both , and possibly prevent disease progression in genetically affected .”

Adrenal glands sit above the kidneys are mainly responsible for releasing cortisol, a stress hormone. Hypercortiolism means a high level of the adrenal hormone cortisol, which causes many symptoms including weight gain, , diabetes, osteoporosis, concentration deficit and increased cardiovascular deaths.

Cushing’s syndrome can be caused by corticosteroid use (such as for asthma or arthritis), a tumor on the adrenal glands, or a  that releases too much ACTH. The pituitary gland sits under the brain and releases various hormones that regulate our bodies’ mechanisms.

Jérôme Bertherat is a researcher at Cochin Hospital in Paris. In the study he published today, he showed that 55% of Cushing’s Syndrome patients with bilaterally very enlarged adrenal glands have mutations in a gene that predisposes to the development of adrenal tumours. This means that bilateral adrenal Cushing’s is much more hereditary than previously thought. The new knowledge will also enable clinicians to undertake genetic screening. Hervé Lefebvre is a researcher at the University Hospital in Rouen, France. His research shows that the adrenal glands from the same type of patients with two large adrenal glands can produce ACTH, which is normally produced by the pituitary gland. Hormone receptors are the chemical link that cause a cell to behave differently when a hormone is present. Several misplaced hormone receptors cause the ACTH to be produced in the enlarged benign adrenal tissue. Knowing this means that researchers might be able to develop drugs that interrupt the receptors for these hormones and possibly even prevent the benign tissue from developing in the first place.

 Explore further: Scientists discover a curable cause for some cases of high blood pressure

More information: André Lacroix, M.D., Heredity and Cortisol Regulation in Bilateral Macronodular Adrenal Hyperplasia, New England Journal of Medicine 369;22, November 28, 2013

Estelle Louiset, Ph.D., Céline Duparc, Ph.D., Jacques Young, M.D., Ph.D., Sylvie Renouf, Ph.D., Milène Tetsi Nomigni, M.Sc., Isabelle Boutelet, Ph.D., Rossella Libé, M.D., Zakariae Bram, M.Sc., Lionel Groussin, M.D., Ph.D., Philippe Caron, M.D., Antoine Tabarin, M.D., Ph.D., Fabienne Grunenberger, M.D., Sophie Christin-Maitre, M.D., Ph.D., Xavier Bertagna, M.D., Ph.D., Jean-Marc Kuhn, M.D., Youssef Anouar, Ph.D., Jérôme Bertherat, M.D., Ph.D., and Hervé Lefebvre, M.D., Ph.D., Intraadrenal Corticotropin in Bilateral Macronodular Adrenal Hyperplasia, New England Journal of Medicine 369;22, November 28, 2013

Guillaume Assié, M.D., Ph.D., Rossella Libé, M.D., Stéphanie Espiard, M.D., Marthe Rizk-Rabin, Ph.D., Anne Guimier, M.D., Windy Luscap, M.Sc., Olivia Barreau, M.D., Lucile Lefèvre, M.Sc., Mathilde Sibony, M.D., Laurence Guignat, M.D., Stéphanie Rodriguez, M.Sc., Karine Perlemoine, B.S., Fernande René-Corail, B.S., Franck Letourneur, Ph.D., Bilal Trabulsi, M.D., Alix Poussier, M.D., Nathalie Chabbert-Buffet, M.D., Ph.D., Françoise Borson-Chazot, M.D., Ph.D., Lionel Groussin, M.D., Ph.D., Xavier Bertagna, M.D., Constantine A. Stratakis, M.D., Ph.D., Bruno Ragazzon, Ph.D., and Jérôme Bertherat, M.D., Ph.D., ARMC5 Mutations in Macronodular Adrenal Hyperplasia with Cushing’s Syndrome, New England Journal of Medicine 369;22, November 28, 2013

The Man Unable to Feel Fear

Jordy is a British man who has been dealing with Cushing’s and many surgeries.

 


Jordy-Cernik

He finds rollercoasters boring, barely broke a sweat zip-wiring off the Tyne bridge and even a parachute jump did not raise his heart rate.

Just a few years ago even the thought of daredevil exploits would have terrified him, but now Jordy Cernik is frightened of nothing.

While that might sound an ideal scenario, the 38-year-old’s new-found bravery is actually the unexpected side-effect of surgery for a rare condition.

Cushing’s Syndrome resulted in the dad-of-two having an operation to remove the gland which produces adrenalin, the hormone which makes us feel scared.

He says: “I would never have had the guts to do any of this, but now nothing fazes me. I’m up for anything – I’m even thinking about doing a wing-walk on a plane too.

“I nearly did a bungee jump a few years ago, but I just couldn’t do it.

“Now I just take whatever is thrown at me and if a challenge helps me raise money for charity, the more daring the better.”

Over the past four months he has completed the parachute jump and zip-wired from the top of Newcastle’s Tyne Bridge and now he is getting ready to complete the last of a trio of challenges – next month’s Bupa Great North Run.

“The doctors didn’t tell me this could be one of the side-effects of the operation,” says Jordy. “But then the condition is so rare I don’t think they know everything about Cushing’s yet.

“Doing the skydive was the ultimate test. I thought that if I was ever going to get scared again then that would be the moment.

“But as we took off in the plane I felt nothing, and when I edged towards the door to jump I felt nothing, and even when I leapt out and pulled my parachute, I didn’t feel scared at all.

“It can be quite frustrating as well though.

“The first time I realised I had changed was when I went on the rides at a theme park with my kids and I just didn’t feel a thing. I just sat there, bored.”

However, the last of his hat-trick of challenges, the Run, will require him to push through the ever-present pain which he has endured for years as a result of Cushing’s.

Britain’s biggest mass participation event, for which The Daily Mirror is a media partner, takes place over a 13.1 mile course from Newcastle to South Shields.

But the syndrome has left Jordy, from Jarrow, near Newcastle, with arthritis, back problems and brittle bones. Worse still, the absence of adrenalin means he now lacks one of the body’s natural painkillers.

“I’m always in pain,” he says. “I’ve just had to learn to zone it out day-to-day and I’m going to have to do that even more when I’m on the run.”

Cushing’s affects around one in 50,000 people in Britain.

It causes a malfunction of the adrenal and pituitary glands which means increased amounts of corticosteroids are produced – often leading to massive, irregular weight gain.

In just three years 5ft 8in Jordy ballooned from 11st 5lb to almost 17st.

While his limbs remained slim, the former Territorial Army recruit saw the pounds pile around the major organs in his torso and head.

“I went through years of hell and I can only describe it as living in someone else’s body,” says the part-time radio presenter and events host.

“I developed this big round moon face and really quite large man boobs, which was so embarrassing.

“But there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I could go to the gym six days a week and still couldn’t lose any of the weight.

“One of the worst things was that people would stare.

“Sometimes they’d take the mickey – often to try and make me feel better, by making light of things – but it would almost always hurt my feelings.

“And my career as a presenter suffered. I tried to play up to the character of being a big, jolly chap but I always felt I was too fat for TV, which is what I would have liked to do a lot more of.”

But it was the effect on his home life with wife Tracy, 43, and daughters Aimee, seven, and four-year-old Eive that for him was far worse.

“I had other really difficult symptoms which included profuse sweating which meant I couldn’t even hold my kids without wrapping them in towels first,” he says.

“Anyone who has children knows how hard that is, not to be able to do normal things. I often used to be in tears.

“Another symptom was extreme grumpiness, so I would find myself suddenly getting really angry and just exploding at them, plus I was always too exhausted to play with them. It was terrible.”

Jordy believes he can trace his symptoms back 15 years although his Cushing’s was only diagnosed in 2005.

He had visited his local surgery with a string of complaints, but by chance saw a different doctor one day and the syndrome was diagnosed.

“I don’t have any ill-feeling about that,” he says, “because the syndrome can be tricky to spot, partly because it is so rare.”

He went on to have both his pituitary and adrenal glands removed but needed a total of seven operations between 2005 and 2010 and not all went smoothly.

During one to remove his pituitary gland, which is inside the skull, the lining of his brain burst due to the stress of repeated surgery.

And while removing a rib to access the adrenal gland in his torso, his lung was punctured.

That wasn’t the end of the complications. He later developed severe meningitis and ended up on a life-support machine.

“But I still consider myself lucky,” he says. “The doctors told me, ‘You died twice really, you shouldn’t even be here’.”

Things have begun to look up in the past few years, however. The Cushing’s is in remission and Jordy has lost four stone.

His life hasn’t returned to normal entirely – he still has to take 30 pills a day, a cocktail of painkillers and hormones, plus drugs to slow the corrosion of his bones.

He has also been diagnosed with another rare condition, sarcoidosis, which creates nodules of irregular cells in the body and can cause serious complications. He’s convinced he has always had it but it has lain dormant until his body was at its most vulnerable.

At present the nodules can only be found on his skin and he’s being monitored to ensure that it doesn’t spread to his internal organs.

Thanks to the surgery, his life has improved enormously since 2010.

In July he had a breast reduction op which not only improved his appearance but also removed the dangerous accumulation of fat around his heart.

Part of this new chapter involves taking part in the Great North Run and raising money for the Cash for Kids appeal run by his local radio station Metro Radio.

The appeal aims to help children and young people in the North East who are disabled or have special needs, or those who suffer from abuse or neglect.

Jordy’s fundraising goal is a relatively modest £1,000, but for him joining the half marathon’s 56,000 participants on September 15 will be as rewarding as hitting his target.

“I really don’t know if I’ll be able to complete the course.” he says. “But I’m looking forward to it and I’m going to give it my best shot.

“Not feeling fear may feel like the power of a superhero, but what I really need for the Great North Run is superhero strength.”

The Bupa Great North Run is Britain’s biggest mass participation event and is organised by Nova International.

It will include world class athletes Mo Farah, Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele – plus 56,000 other runners.

The event is live on BBC One on Sunday 15th September between 9.30am to 13.30

For more information, visit www.greatrun.org

From  http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/real-life-stories/jordy-cernik-man-unable-fear-2208002#ixzz2cny6XeFr 

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