Rare Malignant Tumor of Adrenal Gland Led to Cushing’s, Girl’s Death

While adrenocortical carcinoma — a malignant tumor of the adrenal gland — appears only rarely in children, the tumor may cause secondary Cushing’s syndrome in these patients, a new case report shows.

Early diagnosis of the causes of Cushing’s syndrome could improve the prognosis of these children, researchers say.

The study, “Cushing Syndrome Revealing an Adrenocortical Carcinoma,” was published in the Open Journal of Pediatrics.

Adrenocortical carcinoma is a malignant tumor that develops in the cortex of the adrenal gland. It usually is identified by increased amounts of hormones that are produced by the adrenal glands, like cortisol.

This tumor type is very rare in children, representing fewer than two in every 1,000 pediatric tumors.

Researchers at the University Hospital Center Souro Sanou, in Burquina Faso (West Africa), described the case of a 10-year-old girl who developed this rare cancer.

The patient’s first symptoms were loss of consciousness and recurrent seizures without fever. The patient also had experienced excessive weight gain in the preceding months. At admission she was in a light state of coma and showed obesity in the face and trunk.

An initial analysis of blood, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid failed to detect any alterations, with no diabetes, kidney damage, or infection identified. And, even though no lesions or alteration were seen in the pituitary gland region, brain swelling was detected.

While in the hospital, the patient’s condition continued to deteriorate. She developed fever and difficulty speaking, while showing persistent seizures.

In the absence of a diagnosis, physicians focused on the safeguard of major vital function, control of seizures, and administration of large-spectrum antibiotics. Her condition improved slightly, regaining consciousness and control of seizures.

One month later, however, the patient developed symptoms that are commonly associated with increased levels of cortisol and male sex hormones, including obesity and early development of pubic hair.

After confirming high cortisol levels, physicians examined the patient’s abdominal region,  which revealed a tumor in the left adrenal gland.

The patient received a ketoconazole treatment and a surgery to remove the tumor was planned. But her condition worsened, with development of malignant hypertension and convulsive illness, which led to her death before the tumor was removed.

“The delay in the diagnosis and the insufficiency of the therapeutic means darken the prognosis in our context,” the researchers wrote.

“[Adrenocortical carcinoma] diagnosis should be considered in presence of virilization and early signs of puberty,” the researchers suggested. “Early diagnosis and multidisciplinary management of adrenocortical carcinoma could improve the prognosis in children.”

From https://cushingsdiseasenews.com/2018/05/04/rare-malignant-tumor-adrenal-gland-caused-cushings-case-report/

Cushing’s Syndrome, Prostate Cancer and Adrenocortical Carcinoma

Orphagen has identified and characterized small molecule antagonists to steroidogenic factor-1 (SF-1). SF-1 binds to and regulates DNA promoter elements in the major transporters and enzymes required for adrenal steroid synthesis. It is also required for development of the adrenal gland. SF-1 antagonists inhibit cortisol secretion in adrenal cells and have potential application in two orphan indications, Cushing’s syndrome and adrenocortical carcinoma. In addition, SF-1 appears to have an important role in the progression of advanced prostate cancer.

 

cushings-adrenocortical-crop

 

Cushing’s syndrome:
An estimated 20,000 people in the US have Cushing’s, with more than 3,000 new cases diagnosed each year. The incidence is similar in Europe. Cushing’s syndrome disproportionately affects females, who make up about 75% of the diagnosed cases. Symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome can include obesity, diabetes, psychiatric disorders, osteoporosis and immune suppression. Cushing’s syndrome is caused by elevated secretion of cortisol from the adrenal gland, in association with pituitary, adrenal or other cancers.

Orphagen has identified small molecule antagonists to SF-1 that have the potential to suppress cortisol levels in all Cushing’s patients without serious side effects.

Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC):
ACC is a rare malignancy with an extremely poor prognosis (5-year overall survival: 37-47%). Complete surgical resection offers hope for long-term survival but surgery is not an option in up to two-thirds of patients because metastasis has usually occurred by the time of diagnosis.

SF-1 is recognized as a potential mechanism-based therapeutic target for control of ACC and an SF-1 antagonist could be used in the treatment of ACC.

Pediatric ACC:
Pediatric ACC is a very rare but aggressive cancer with a long-term survival rate of about 50%. Approximately 60% of children with adrenocortical tumors are diagnosed before the age of four. The SF-1 gene is amplified and SF-1 protein is overexpressed in the vast majority of childhood adrenocortical tumors strongly implicating SF-1 in pediatric adrenocortical tumorigenesis.

Castration resistant prostate cancer (CRPC):
CRPC is the most common cancer in males. Surgery is not an option if the cancer has spread beyond the prostate gland, at which point patients typically receive hormonal therapy, essentially chemical castration. This course of therapy usually fails within two years, resulting in castration resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). Most patients eventually succumb to CRPC, which is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men.
SF-1 antagonists may: (1) block the adrenal androgens that circumvent chemical castration, and are a primary cause of CRPC; and (2) inhibit synthesis of androgens within the prostate tumor itself, where SF-1 may control induction of enzymes for de novo androgen synthesis in treatment-resistant cancers.

From http://www.orphagen.com/research_cushings.html

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