Improved Quality of Life After Bilateral Laparoscopic Adrenalectomy for Cushing’s Disease

Ann Surg. 2007 May; 245(5): 790–794.
A 10-Year Experience
Sarah K. Thompson, MD,* Amanda V. Hayman, MD, MPH,* William H. Ludlam, MD, PhD,† Clifford W. Deveney, MD,* D Lynn Loriaux, MD, PhD,† and Brett C. Sheppard, MD*

Objective:

To determine long-term quality of life after bilateral adrenalectomy for persistent Cushing’s disease after transsphenoidal pituitary tumor resection.

Summary Background Data:

Bilateral adrenalectomy for symptomatic relief of persistent hypercortisolism appears to be an effective treatment option. However, few studies have examined long-term outcomes in this patient population.

Methods:

Retrospective review of 39 patients treated by bilateral laparoscopic adrenalectomy for Cushing’s disease from 1994 to 2004. Patients completed a follow-up phone survey, including our Cushing-specific questionnaire and the SF-12v2 health survey. Patients then refrained from taking their steroid replacement for 24 hours, and serum cortisol and ACTH levels were measured.

Results:

Three patients died at 12, 19, and 50 months following surgery from causes unrelated to adrenalectomy. The remaining 36 patients all responded to the study questionnaire (100% response rate). Patients were between 3 months and 10 years post-adrenalectomy. We had zero operative mortalities and a 10.3% morbidity rate. Our incidence of Nelson’s syndrome requiring clinical intervention was 8.3%; 89% of patients reported an improvement in their Cushing-related symptoms, and 91.7% would undergo the same treatment again. Twenty of 36 (55%) and 29 of 36 (81%) patients fell within the top two thirds of the national average for physical and mental composite scores, respectively, on the SF-12v2 survey. An undetectable serum cortisol level was found in 79.4% of patients.

Conclusions:

Laparoscopic bilateral adrenalectomy for symptomatic Cushing’s disease is a safe and effective treatment option. The majority of patients experience considerable improvement in their Cushing’s disease symptoms, and their quality of life equals that of patients initially cured by transsphenoidal pituitary tumor resection.

harvey-cushing-memorial

Harvey Cushing first described Cushing’s disease (hypercortisolism caused by an ACTH-secreting pituitary adenoma) in 1912 in his book entitled: The Pituitary Body and its Disorders. Endogenous glucocorticoid excess causes devastating sequelae in the patient, including marked central obesity, facial fullness, proximal muscle weakness, hypertension, diabetes, hypogonadism, osteoporosis, mood disorders, and cognitive impairment.1–4 Transsphenoidal pituitary tumor resection is without dispute the best first line treatment option for these patients. Unfortunately, 10% to 30% of patients will fail to achieve long-term remission of their Cushing’s disease.5 Four treatment options exist for these patients: 1) repeat transsphenoidal resection, 2) medical therapy, 3) radiation therapy, and 4) bilateral laparoscopic adrenalectomy. Optimum treatment or sequence of different treatments has not yet been established in the literature and often presents a considerable challenge to both the patient and the physician.5

Few studies examine long-term outcomes, including quality of life, in patients requiring additional therapy for persistent Cushing’s disease.6,7 At our institution, patients who fail repeated transsphenoidal adenomectomy are offered bilateral laparoscopic adrenalectomy in the hopes of minimizing the adverse effects caused by chronic hypercortisolism.

The purpose of this study was to determine the safety, efficacy, and long-term outcomes in patients who underwent bilateral laparoscopic adrenalectomy for persistent Cushing’s disease. We assessed all patients for biochemical cure of their Cushing’s disease and evaluated their quality of life with both a general and a Cushing-specific questionnaire.

METHODS

Selection of Patients and Variables

After approval from our Institutional Review Board, all patients who underwent a bilateral laparoscopic adrenalectomy for persistent Cushing’s disease were identified from Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU)’s centralized administrative hospital discharge database. As the first laparoscopic adrenalectomy was reported in 1992 by Gagner et al,8 our first patient dates back to November 1994. OHSU is an ideal setting for a study of this nature as there are large neuroendocrine and neurosurgical units subspecializing in Cushing’s disease management. Therefore, patients in this study were accrued from direct referral from these 2 units, and include patients from adjacent and remote states as well as from Oregon. Inclusion criteria included: confirmed diagnosis of Cushing’s disease, minimum of 3 months follow-up, and bilateral laparoscopic adrenalectomy (BLA) done at OHSU. Our surgical technique has been previously reported6 and is the standard transperitoneal approach in lateral decubitus position. Medical records were reviewed to obtain patient demographics, operative reports, pathologic data, and postoperative events.

A total of 39 patients qualified for our study. Their characteristics at study entry are listed in Table 1. The majority of patients were female (34 of 39), and mean age at time of BLA was 41.5 years. Our follow-up ranged from 3 months to 10 years, with a mean follow-up of 3.6 years following BLA. Three patients died at 12, 19, and 50 months after BLA from cardiac failure (1), pneumonia (1), and stroke (1) as reported by Hawn et al.6 These patients were more than 65 years of age at the time of BLA, and their deaths occurred well outside of the perioperative time period. Patients with Cushing’s disease have a high prevalence of atherosclerosis and maintain increased cardiovascular risk even 5 years after cure.2–4

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TABLE 1. Patient Characteristics

The remaining 36 patients all responded to our phone questionnaire (100% response rate). We achieved a 100% response rate by contacting patient’s primary physician, their endocrinologist, and/or their next-of-kin contact (in case of emergency) if a patient was not available at their listed phone number. Thirty-five of 36 patients complied with biochemical testing (97.2% of available study sample). All patients had undergone at least one transsphenoidal pituitary tumor resection, with the mean number of resections calculated at 1.5. Most patients had a time interval of at least 2 years between their last pituitary tumor resection and BLA. Four patients had had failed pituitary irradiation (10.3%).

Study Protocol

Once consented, patients were submitted to a two-step study:

Clinical Study

Patients were asked to complete a two-page phone questionnaire by an independent investigator (A.V.H.) that identified patient’s preoperative and postoperative body mass index (BMI), comorbidities, preoperative and postoperative Cushing’s disease symptoms, and satisfaction with surgery. Cushing’s disease-specific symptoms were subcategorized into 4 categories: physical appearance (9 items), hematologic/immunologic (3 items), comorbidities (3 items), and neuropsychiatric (10 items) (questionnaire available upon request). Patients were asked to describe their symptoms both preoperatively and currently on a linear scale from 1 point (no symptom) to 5 points (extreme symptom). We then calculated the increase or decrease in number of points from preoperatively to the present time. This was reported as a mean increase or decrease in the overall number of points for each category of symptoms. The SF-12v2 questionnaire (QualityMetric Inc, Lincoln, NE) was also administered during the same interview.

Biochemical Study

Patients were instructed to cease their steroid replacement for 24 hours, and then have a morning serum cortisol level drawn to confirm biochemical cure. A serum cortisol level less than 1 μg/dL was considered a “cure.” Any patient who had a level over 1 μg/dL was asked to change their steroid replacement regimen to dexamethasone (0.5 mg orally once a day) and to undergo repeat cortisol level testing. If their serum cortisol levels were still detectable (>1 μg/dL) after continuing on dexamethasone replacement for 3 days, the patients were deemed to have endogenous cortisol production.

Statistical Analysis

SPSS for Windows, version 11.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL) was used to perform data analysis. Data were expressed as mean (range) or mean ± SD as appropriate. Results from the SF12v2 health survey were compared with published values for the U.S. population using t tests. Postoperative variables associated with an elevated cortisol level were evaluated by bivariate logistic regression.

RESULTS

Surgical outcomes are listed in Table 2. We had no surgical mortalities, and 4 of 39 (10.3%) patients had significant complications, including urosepsis, distal pancreatitis, and 2 conversions to an open procedure. One patient was converted for bleeding from a splenic injury, and the second patient was converted to an open procedure for hepatomegaly and inability to visualize the adrenal vein safely. One patient had a minor vena caval injury requiring only pressure to control. Mean operating time was 273 minutes (excluding 35 minutes of repositioning time), and estimated blood loss was less than 100 mL for 25 of 39 (75.8%) patients. Mean length of stay was 4.2 days. Twenty-seven of 39 (69%) adrenal glands showed diffuse or nodular hyperplasia on pathology, while 9 of 39 (25%) adrenal glands were hypertrophic only. Three adrenal glands (8.3%) were normal on pathology. More than 50% of patients had never experienced an adrenal crisis. Approximately 20% had had one adrenal crisis, and the rest had had more than one episode of cortisol insufficiency.

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TABLE 2. Surgical Outcomes

Nelson syndrome is characterized by: 1) growing residual pituitary adenoma, 2) ACTH concentration >300 mg/dL, and 3) hyperpigmentation of the skin following bilateral adrenalectomy.9,10 Twenty-six of 35 patients (74.3%) had a serum ACTH level less than 300 pg/mL and 9/35 patients (25.7%) had an elevated ACTH level (Table 3). Three of 35 patients (8.6%) had MRI evidence of growing residual pituitary adenoma, and 4 of 36 patients (11.1%) complained of significant skin darkening (and an additional 7 of 36 patients, 19.4%, noted mild skin darkening). In our patient population, 3 of 36 (8.3%) required further pituitary surgery or irradiation for some or all of these components of Nelson syndrome.

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TABLE 3. Nelson’s Syndrome

Postoperative Cushing’s disease symptom resolution postadrenalectomy is listed in Table 4. Thirty-three of 36 patients (92%) experienced weight loss following BLA, with a mean decrease in BMI from 35 to 29.6. The highest mean points improvement in Cushing symptoms was reported for physical appearance and neuropsychiatric complaints, 11.1 and 9.8 points, respectively. Patients also reported some improvement in their hematologic/immunologic complications and systemic comorbidities, 2.8 and 3.1 points, respectively. Twenty-eight of 36 patients (78%) reported a moderate or significant improvement in their symptoms, while 4 of 36 (11.1%) experienced only mild improvement, and 4 of 36 (11.1%) had no improvement or were worse.

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TABLE 4. Postoperative Symptom Resolution

Thirty-one of 36 patients (86.1%) were either satisfied or very satisfied with their BLA (Table 5). Four patients (11.1%) were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with BLA. An overwhelming 33 of 36 patients (91.7%) said they would undergo the same treatment again if needed. The mean Physical Composite Score for the SF-12v2 was 36 (range, 16–60) compared with 48 for U.S. women 45 to 54 years of age. The mean Mental Composite Score was 45 (range, 14–64) compared with 49 for U.S. women 45 to 54 years of age. Six of 36 patients (16.7%) were above the 50th percentile for U.S. population in physical categories, while 16 of 36 patients (44.4%) were above the 50th percentile in mental categories. Twenty of 36 (56%) and 29 of 36 (81%) patients fell within the top two thirds of the national average for physical and mental composite scores, respectively. By comparison with another chronic disease, namely diabetes, 23 of 36 (64%) and 28 of 36 (78%) of the BLA patients fell within the top two thirds of the diabetic patient average for physical and mental composite scores, respectively.

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TABLE 5. Postoperative Quality of Life

Postoperative biochemical results are listed in Table 6. Twenty-seven of 34 patients (79.4%) had no detectable endogenous cortisol after ceasing exogenous steroids for 24 hours. Seven of 34 patients (20.6%) were confirmed to have endogenous cortisol production with a detectable serum cortisol level after both cessation of steroids for 24 hours and after 3 days of dexamethasone.

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TABLE 6. Postoperative Biochemical Outcomes

DISCUSSION

The main objective of this study was to evaluate quality of life (QOL) after bilateral laparoscopic adrenalectomy for persistent Cushing’s disease. Thirty-nine patients have had this therapy for chronic hypercortisolism over the past 10 years at OHSU and, of those patients still alive, we had a 100% response rate. To our knowledge, this is the largest series of long-term follow-up of patients with persistent Cushing’s disease treated by BLA. The degree of willingness of this patient group to assist the medical community in studying this disease likely reflects the impact Cushing’s disease has had on these patients and the enormity of the decisions they have had to make regarding their health over the course of their disease.

Our center published preliminary QOL results on our initial 18 patients.6 In this study, there was a 66% response rate, and scores on all 8 parameters of the SF-36 were significantly reduced from general population values. We significantly improved our response rate by doing telephone surveys as opposed to mail-out questionnaires, and by contacting all those necessary to locate a “missing patient.” In the present study, we though it would be more representative to compare our patient’s SF-12 values to U.S. women 45 to 54 years of age as well as to patients with diabetes (a patient population also with a chronic disease). In both cases, Cushing’s disease patients that are treated with BLA have significant improvement in their Cushing-related problems and most have regained a relatively normal QOL. Furthermore, we created a Cushing-specific symptom questionnaire as there is no disease-specific QOL questionnaire available for Cushing’s disease. This Cushing-specific questionnaire shows that 89% of patients experience improvement in their symptoms after BLA and, consequently, marked improvement in their QOL.

The results of this study show that, while the mean physical composite score was significantly lower than that of age- and gender-matched U.S. citizens (36 vs. 48), the mean mental composite score was close to that of U.S. women 45 to 54 years of age (45 vs. 49). A recent paper by van Aken et al7 reports similar findings in patients successfully treated by transsphenoidal surgery. They found, using 4 different questionnaires including the SF-36, that several aspects of QOL are reduced, particularly in areas of physical ability. It would seem, therefore, that patients who undergo BLA for persistent Cushing’s disease have, at the very least, an equal QOL to those patients who are successfully treated by initial transsphenoidal pituitary tumor resection.

Two other findings are worthy of discussion in this study. First, the surgical outcomes for these patients were favorable, with zero mortalities, and a 10% morbidity rate. Our operative times (mean, 273 minutes), and length of stay (mean, 4.2 days) were longer than most other series of laparoscopic adrenalectomies.11,12 However, this can be explained by a Canadian study that compared surgical outcomes in 3 different categories of patients13: 1) Cushing’s disease, 2) pheochromocytoma, and 3) unilateral adrenalectomy for nonpheochromocytoma. Poulin et al13found that patients in the first group had longer operating time (median, 255 minutes) and a long postoperative stay (median, 4 days). This is likely secondary to the high BMI of this patient population and the added operative time inherent in repositioning the patient. The extended postoperative stay is in part due to the need to establish homeostasis in fluids and electrolytes following removal of both adrenal glands. It is also due to the need for steroid taper and regulation, as well as the delayed healing these patients experience due to the catabolic nature of cortisol. Our results show that this is a safe, effective option for patients with persistent Cushing’s disease after transsphenoidal pituitary tumor resection.

Second, approximately 20% of our study sample had evidence of endogenous cortisol production following BLA. Evidence of detectable cortisol levels after BLA is reportedly rare; however, there is a paucity of literature on this subject. Possible etiologies include incomplete adrenal resection or functional ectopic adrenal remnants in the adrenal fossa or elsewhere. In 2 patients undergoing BLA for Cushing’s disease (from this current series), we have documented extracortical adrenal tissue remote from the adrenal gland in the retroperitoneal fat. Since then, we have changed our operative conduct to include complete removal of the retroperitoneal fat in the adrenal bed to avoid inadvertently leaving behind extracortical adrenal tissue. Since changing our technique, we have identified one other patient with an extracortical adrenal rest in the left adrenal fossa.

We have also done reoperative laparoscopic explorations in 2 of 7 patients with detectable serum cortisol levels, clinical evidence of hypercortisolism (and subsequent loss of postoperative need for steroid replacement), and positive NP-59 radioscintigraphy scans. The source of alleged endogenous cortisol production, as directed by NP-59 scanning, was in the adrenal fossa in one patient and on the left ovary in the second patient. Pathology demonstrated only fibrous tissue. The source of cortisol production following BLA remains to be determined and will be the subject of future investigation. We currently do not advise routine reexploration for symptomatic endogenous cortisol production without a positive NP-59 scan.

The present study does have one important limitation. We do not have preoperative QOL surveys on the majority of our patients. Therefore, we are relying on patients to remember their preoperative status and compare it with their current state of health. However, bias toward the patient feeling obliged to report a positive outcome was avoided by using an independent investigator (A.V.H.) with no involvement in the patient’s perioperative care to complete all telephone questionnaires. As well, there was no variation in response according to time interval between BLA and our study or between number of preoperative transsphenoidal treatments and BLA, suggesting that memory (or lack thereof) is not an independent predictor of postoperative improvement.

CONCLUSION

Our study shows that BLA for persistent Cushing’s disease provides patients with considerable improvement in their Cushing-related symptoms with concordant increase in their quality of life. After BLA, patients may attain the same (or better) quality of life as patients initially cured by transsphenoidal pituitary tumor resection. We think that BLA is a safe and effective treatment of the 10% to 30% of patients who fail initial therapy for Cushing’s disease, and should be considered preferentially over other available therapies.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

The authors thank Karin Miller and Chris Yedinak for all their help in coordinating and collecting biochemical data on our patients.

Footnotes

Reprints: Brett C. Sheppard, MD, Department of Surgery, Oregon Health & Science University, Mail Code: L223A, Portland, OR 97239. E-mail: sheppard@ohsu.edu.

REFERENCES

1. Di Somma C, Pivonella R, Loche S, et al. Effect of 2 years of cortisol normalization on the impaired bone mass and turnover in adolescent and adult patients with Cushing’s disease: a prospective study. Clin Endocrinol. 2003;58:302–308. [PubMed]
2. Colao A, Pivonello R, Spiezia S, et al. Persistence of increased cardiovascular risk in patients with Cushing’s disease after five years of successful cure. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1999;84:2664–2672. [PubMed]
3. Faggiano A, Pivonello R, Spiezia S, et al. Cardiovascular risk factors and common carotid artery caliber and stiffness in patients with Cushing’s disease during active disease and 1 year after disease remission. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2003;88:2527–2533. [PubMed]
4. Albiger N, Testa RM, Almoto B, et al. Patients with Cushing’s syndrome have increased intimal media thickness at different vascular levels: comparison with a population matched for similar cardiovascular risk factors. Horm Metab Res. 2006;38:405–410. [PubMed]
5. Locatelli M, Vance ML, Laws ER. The strategy of immediate reoperation for transsphenoidal surgery for Cushing’s disease [Clinical Review]. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005;90:5478–5482.[PubMed]
6. Hawn MT, Cook D, Deveney C, et al. Quality of life after laparoscopic bilateral adrenalectomy for Cushing’s disease. Surgery. 2002;132:1064–1069. [PubMed]
7. van Aken MO, Pereira AM, Biermasz NR, et al. Quality of life in patients after long-term biochemical cure of Cushing’s disease. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2005;90:3279–3286. [PubMed]
8. Gagner M, Lacroix A, Prinz RA, et al. Early experiences with laparoscopic approach for adrenalectomy. Surgery. 1993;114:1120–1124. [PubMed]
9. van Aken MO, Pereira AM, van den Berg G, et al. Profound amplification of secretory-burst mass and anomalous regularity of ACTH secretory process in patients with Nelson’s syndrome compared with Cushing’s disease. Clin Endocrin. 2004;60:765–772. [PubMed]
10. Assie G, Bahurel H, Bertherat J, et al. The Nelson’s syndrome … revisited. Pituitary. 2004;7:209–215. [PubMed]
11. Zeh HJ, Udelsman R. One hundred laparoscopic adrenalectomies: a single surgeon’s experience. Ann Surg Oncol. 2003;10:1012–1017. [PubMed]
12. Gagner M, Pomp A, Heniford BT, et al. Laparoscopic adrenalectomy: lessons learned form 100 consecutive procedures. Ann Surg. 1997;226:238–246. [PMC free article] [PubMed]
13. Poulin EC, Schlachta CM, Burpee SE, et al. Laparoscopic adrenalectomy: pathologic features determine outcome. Can J Surg. 2003;46:340–344. [PMC free article] [PubMed]

Articles from Annals of Surgery are provided here courtesy of Lippincott, Williams, and Wilkins

Prolactin Measure Didn’t Help Localize Pituitary Adenoma

By: SHERRY BOSCHERT, Clinical Endocrinology News Digital Network

SAN FRANCISCO – Measurements of prolactin levels during inferior petrosal sinus sampling did not help localize pituitary adenomas in patients with Cushing’s disease in a study of 28 patients, contradicting findings from a previous study of 28 patients.

The value of prolactin measurements in tumor localization using inferior petrosal sinus sampling (IPSS) remains unclear and needs further study in a larger, prospective study, Dr. Susmeeta T. Sharma said at the Endocrine Society’s Annual Meeting. The current and previous studies were retrospective analyses.

Although IPSS has been considered the standard test in patients with ACTH-dependent Cushing’s syndrome to differentiate between ectopic ACTH secretion and Cushing’s disease, there has been controversy about its value in localizing adenomas within the pituitary gland once a biochemical diagnosis of Cushing’s disease has been made. Various studies that used an intersinus ACTH ratio of 1.4 or greater before or after corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) stimulation have reported success rates as low as 50% and as high as 100% for tumor location.

A previous retrospective study of 28 patients with Cushing’s disease reported that adjusting the ACTH intersinus gradient by levels of prolactin before or after CRH stimulation, and combining the prolactin-adjusted ACTH intersinus ratio, improved pituitary adenoma localization. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) alone correctly localized the pituitary adenoma in 17 patients (61%), a prolactin-adjusted ACTH intersinus ratio of at least 1.4 improved the localization rate to 21 patients (75%), and combining MRI and the prolactin-adjusted ACTH intersinus ratio improved localization further to 23 patients, or 82% (Clin. Endocrinol. 2012;77:268-74).

The findings inspired the current retrospective study. The investigators looked at prolactin levels measured in stored petrosal and peripheral venous samples at baseline and at the time of peak ACTH levels after CRH stimulation for 28 patients with Cushing’s disease and ACTH-positive pituitary adenomas who underwent IPSS in 2007-2013. The investigators calculated prolactin-adjusted values by dividing each ACTH value by the concomitant ipsilateral prolactin value. They used an intersinus ACTH ratio of 1.4 or greater to predict tumor location.

At surgery, 26 patients had a single lateral tumor (meaning its epicenter was not in the midline), 1 patient had a central microadenoma, and 1 patient had a macroadenoma, reported Dr. Sharma of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, Md.

MRI findings accurately identified the location of 21 of the 26 lateral tumors (81%), compared with accurate localization in 18 patients using either the unadjusted ACTH intersinus ratio or the prolactin-adjusted ACTH intersinus ratio (69% for each), she said.

Incorrect tumor localization occurred with one patient using MRI alone and seven patients using either ratio. In four patients whose tumors could not be localized by MRI, the uncorrected and prolactin-adjusted ratios localized one tumor correctly and three tumors incorrectly. Only MRI correctly localized the one central microadenoma.

“We did not find any difference in localization rates by measurement of prolactin during IPSS,” she said. The small size of the study and its retrospective design invite further research in a more robust study.

Dr. Sharma reported having no financial disclosures.

From Clinical Endocrinology News

Long-term mifepristone associated with endometrial thickening, bleeding

SAN FRANCISCO – Long-term mifepristone therapy for Cushing’s syndrome was associated with endometrial thickening, with some women showing histologic changes consistent with progesterone receptor modulator–associated endometrial changes, in two studies of a total of 35 patients.

The women received 300-1,200 mg/day of mifepristone in the 24-week open-label Study of the Efficacy and Safety of Mifepristone in the Treatment of Endogenous Cushing’s Syndrome (SEISMIC) and in an extension of the study in 18 patients who continued for a median of 27 months (range, 14-43 months).

Mifeprex is used, with misoprostol, to end an early pregnancy (within 49 days of the start of a woman’s last menstrual period), according to the Food and Drug Administration’s website. The treatment of Cushing’s syndrome is an off-label use.

Transvaginal ultrasounds in 26 women at baseline and 27 women after the start of the study showed that mifepristone use was associated with endometrial thickening, especially in premenopausal women. The endometrium thickened by more than 5 mm in 8 of 26 premenopausal women (31%) and in two of nine postmenopausal women (22%), with thickening of more than 10 mm in 4 premenopausal women (15%) and one postmenopausal woman (11%), Dr. Ty Carroll reported.

Four (22%) of the 18 women in the extension study who’d been on mifepristone for 14 or more weeks and who had endometrial thickening greater than 20 mm developed clinically relevant endometrial bleeding and underwent hysterectomy (three patients) or dilation and curettage. The endometrial thickening ranged from 25 to 55 mm in these women, who remained on mifepristone therapy throughout the studies, Dr. Carroll and his associates reported in a featured poster presentation at the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society.

“Gynecologic consultation may be required in patients with persistent endometrial bleeding,” said Dr. Carroll of the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

Vaginal bleeding of any kind occurred in 10 premenopausal women (38.5%) and two postmenopausal patients (7%). Three premenopausal women reported minor bleeding upon starting mifepristone, and one premenopausal woman reported minor bleeding after stopping mifepristone. Two premenopausal and two postmenopausal women reported intermittent, self-limited spotting or bleeding during treatment.

Bleeding did not always occur following endometrial thickening. Three patients with endometrial thickening greater than 20 mm after 6 months reported no bleeding.

Mifepristone use was not associated with precancerous endometrial lesions. In 33 endometrial biopsies obtained from 15 patients (11 premenopausal and 4 postmenopausal women), 31 biopsies (94%) had benign histology with variable findings of inactive, atrophic, disordered, or mixed-pattern endometrium, and 18 biopsies (56%) showed findings of progesterone receptor modulator–associated endometrial changes. Simple hyperplasia in one patient could not be confirmed on a repeat biopsy, and complex atypical endometrial hyperplasia in a second patient was thought to have existed prior to the study, Dr. Carroll reported. No patients showed evidence of endometrial carcinoma.

Previous studies have reported progesterone receptor modulator–associated endometrial changes from the use of mifepristone, a competitive progesterone receptor antagonist, in doses of 5-200 mg/day that are not associated with glucocorticoid receptor antagonism.

In the current study, median endometrial thickness for the premenopausal women was 5 mm at baseline and 11 mm at 6 months, and for postmenopausal women, was 3 mm at baseline and 6.4 mm at 6 months. The gain was statistically significant for premenopausal but not postmenopausal women. Endometrial thickness continued to increase in the extension study.

The SEISMIC study included adult females with endogenous Cushing’s syndrome and type 2 diabetes or impaired glucose function and/or hypertension. It excluded premenopausal women with an endometrial thickness greater than 20 mm, postmenopausal women with an endometrial thickness greater than 5 mm, patients with ovarian cysts with diameters measuring greater than 5 cm (premenopausal) or 2 cm (postmenopausal), or women with free fluid pockets greater than 4 cm. Premenopausal participants had a mean age of 39 years, and postmenopausal participants had a mean age of 57 years.

Dr. Carroll has been a speaker and researcher for Corcept Therapeutics, which markets mifepristone. His coinvestigators were employees, contractors, or consultants for Corcept, which provided some funding for the study.

By: SHERRY BOSCHERT, Clinical Endocrinology News Digital Network

sboschert@frontlinemedcom.com

On Twitter @sherryboschert

From Clinical Endocrinology News

When to think Cushing’s syndrome in type 2 diabetes

ESTES PARK, COLO. – Diabetes mellitus, osteoporosis, and hypertension are conditions that should boost the index of suspicion that a patient with some cushingoid features may in fact have endogenous Cushing’s syndrome, Dr. Michael T. McDermott said at a conference on internal medicine sponsored by the University of Colorado.

An estimated 1 in 20 patients with type 2 diabetes has endogenous Cushing’s syndrome. The prevalence of this form of hypercortisolism is even greater – estimated at up to 11% – among individuals with osteoporosis. In hypertensive patients, the figure is 1%. And among patients with an incidentally detected adrenal mass, it’s 6%-9%, according to Dr. McDermott, professor of medicine and director of endocrinology and diabetes at the University of Colorado.

“Endogenous Cushing’s syndrome is not rare. I suspect I’ve seen more cases than I’ve diagnosed,” he observed. “I’ve probably missed a lot because I failed to screen people, not recognizing that they had cushingoid features. Not everyone looks classic.”

There are three screening tests for endogenous Cushing’s syndrome that all primary care physicians ought to be familiar with: the 24-hour urine cortisol test, the bedtime salivary cortisol test, and the overnight 1-mg dexamethasone suppression test.

“I think if you have moderate or mild suspicion, you should use one of these tests. If you have more than moderate suspicion – if a patient really looks like he or she has Cushing’s syndrome – then I would use at least two screening tests to rule out endogenous Cushing’s syndrome,” the endocrinologist continued.

The patient performs the bedtime salivary cortisol test at home, obtaining samples two nights in a row and mailing them to an outside laboratory. The overnight dexamethasone suppression test entails taking 1 mg of dexamethasone at bedtime, then measuring serum cortisol the next morning. A value greater than 1.8 mcg/dL is a positive result.

Pregnant women constitute a special population for whom the screening method recommended in Endocrine Society clinical practice guidelines (J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 2008;93:1526-40) is the 24-hour urine cortisol test. That’s because pregnancy is a state featuring high levels of cortisol-binding globulins, which invalidates the other tests. In patients with renal failure, the recommended screening test is the 1-mg dexamethasone suppression test. In patients on antiepileptic drugs, the 24-hour urine cortisol or bedtime salivary cortisol test is advised, because antiseizure medications enhance the metabolism of dexamethasone.

Dr. McDermott said that “by far” the most discriminatory clinical features of endogenous Cushing’s syndrome are easy bruising, violaceous striae on the trunk, facial plethora, and proximal muscle weakness.

“They’re by no means specific. You’ll see these features in people who don’t have Cushing’s syndrome. But those are the four things that should make you really consider Cushing’s syndrome in your differential diagnosis,” he stressed.

More widely recognized yet actually less discriminatory clinical features include facial fullness and the “buffalo hump,” supraclavicular fullness, central obesity, hirsutism, reduced libido, edema, and thin or poorly healing skin.

Endogenous Cushing’s syndrome can have three causes. An adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-secreting pituitary adenoma accounts for 80% of cases. A cortisol-secreting adrenal tumor is the cause of 10%. And another 10% are due to an ectopic ACTH-secreting tumor, most commonly a bronchial carcinoid tumor.

Once the primary care physician has a positive screening test in hand, it’s typical to refer the affected patient to an endocrinologist in order to differentiate which of the three causes is present. This is accomplished based upon the results of a large, 8-mg dexamethasone suppression test coupled with measurement of plasma ACTH levels.

Dr. McDermott recommended as a good read on the topic of evaluating a patient with endogenous Cushing’s syndrome a recent review article that included a useful algorithm (N. Engl. J. Med. 2013;368:2126-36).

He reported having no financial conflicts.

bjancin@frontlinemedcom.com

From http://www.clinicalendocrinologynews.com

Corcept Therapeutics Announces Partnership With Idis for Global Access to Korlym(R)

PRINCETON, NJ and MENLO PARK, CA, Jul 24, 2013 (Marketwired via COMTEX) — Corcept Therapeutics Incorporated CORT  announced today that Korlym(R) (mifepristone) 300 mg Tablets is available to patients outside of the United States through an Idis Access Program.

Idis Access Programs enable patients around the world to be prescribed investigational or approved drugs prior to their commercial launch in that country through a regulatory-compliant and ethical channel on a named-patient basis. Corcept, a pharmaceutical company engaged in the discovery, development and commercialization of drugs for the treatment of severe metabolic and psychiatric disorders, has been offering Korlym in the United States since April 2012 as a once-daily oral treatment of hyperglycemia secondary to endogenous Cushing’s syndrome in adult patients who have type 2 diabetes mellitus or glucose intolerance and have failed surgery or are not candidates for surgery.

“We are pleased to partner with Idis so that physicians outside the United States can prescribe Korlym,” said Steven Lo, Corcept’s Vice President of Commercial Operations. “We are dedicated to meeting the needs of patients worldwide. Our partnership with Idis will help us make sure that every Cushing’s syndrome patient who could benefit from Korlym will have access to the medicine.”

Charles Simmons, President of Established Brands at Idis said of the partnership, “We are very excited to work with Corcept to provide patients around the world with access to this important treatment. Patients are at the heart of what we do at Idis and providing access to an important medicine like Korlym, creating a bridge to treatment irrespective of the number of patients involved, is one of the ways we do it”.

Licensed healthcare professionals outside the United States with patients who might benefit from Korlym should contact Idis directly:

Idis UK & Eire Enquiries Tel: +44 (0) 1932 824 100 Fax: +44 (0) 1932 824 300 Email: uk@idispharma.com

Idis Rest of the World Enquiries Tel: +44 (0) 1932 824 123 Fax: +44 (0) 1932 824 323 Email: internationalsales@idispharma.com

About Cushings Syndrome Endogenous Cushing’s syndrome is caused by prolonged exposure of the body’s tissues to high levels of the hormone cortisol and is generated by tumors that produce cortisol or ACTH. Cushing’s syndrome is an orphan indication that most commonly affects adults aged 20 to 50. Symptoms vary, but most people have one or more of the following manifestations: high blood sugar, diabetes, high blood pressure, upper body obesity, rounded face, increased fat around the neck, thinning arms and legs, severe fatigue and weak muscles. Irritability, anxiety, cognitive disturbances and depression are also common. Cushing’s syndrome can affect every organ system in the body and can be fatal if not treated effectively.

About Corcept Therapeutics Incorporated Corcept is a pharmaceutical company engaged in the discovery, development and commercialization of drugs for the treatment of severe metabolic and psychiatric disorders. Korlym, a first generation GR-II antagonist, is the company’s first FDA-approved medication. Corcept has a phase 3 trial underway for mifepristone for treatment of the psychotic features of psychotic depression and a portfolio of selective GR-II antagonists that block the effects of cortisol but not progesterone. It owns extensive intellectual property covering the use of GR-II antagonists, including mifepristone, in the treatment of a wide variety of metabolic and psychiatric disorders. It also holds composition of matter patents for its selective GR-II antagonists. For more information about Corcept please visit: http://www.corcept.com

About Idis Idis has 25 years experience partnering with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to create regulatory-compliant, ethical access to medicines for healthcare professionals and their patients with unmet medical needs. Since 1987, Idis has developed and managed access to thousands of medicines from every therapeutic category, impacting the lives of hundreds of thousands of patients in countries around the world.

Idis leverages decades of experience, regulatory insight, and a thorough understanding of local and global requirements to create access to medicines at every stage of a product’s lifecycle from pre-approval to market exit, and in times of unexpected production shortages.

The company’s European headquarters are located in Weybridge, United Kingdom, and North American headquarters are located in Princeton, NJ.

For more information about Idis please visit http://www.idispharma.com.

From Marketwatch

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