Case Report Shows Rare Adrenal Tumors Associated with Cushing’s Disease

Pituitary tumors that produce too much adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) have been associated with the development of rare tumors on the adrenal glands, called adrenal myelolipomas, for the first time in a case report.

The study, “Case report of a bilateral adrenal myelolipoma associated with Cushing disease,” was published in the journal Medicine.

Myelolipomas, composed of mature fat cells and blood-forming cells, are usually asymptomatic and do not produce hormones. In many cases, these tumors are detected by accident when patients undergo imaging scans for other conditions.

The cause of these tumors is unknown, but due to their benign nature, they do not spread to other parts of the body. However, they can grow up to 34 centimeters (about 13 inches), leading to tissue death and hemorrhage.

Researchers at Soon Chun Hyang University College of Medicine in Seoul, Korea, described the case of a 52-year-old man with myelolipoma possibly caused by an ACTH-secreting pituitary tumor.

During a routine checkup, researchers detected a mass in the patient’s spleen. Further abdominal evaluations identified tissue lesions in both adrenal glands consistent with myelolipoma. Besides the masses, the patient did not show any other Cushing-associated physical characteristics.

However, the patient’s ACTH levels were two times higher than the normal upper limit. Cortisol levels were also increased and unresponsive to low-dose dexamethasone treatment.

No additional lesions were found that could help explain the high ACTH and cortisol levels. But analysis of blood samples collected from the veins draining the pituitary glands revealed the right gland was producing too much ACTH, strongly suggesting Cushing’s disease.

Both the left adrenal gland and pituitary tumor were surgically removed. The samples collected during surgery confirmed the benign nature of the adrenal tumors, and the diagnosis of abnormal, ACTH-positive pituitary gland tissue.

Three days after the surgeries, hormone levels were back to normal. But a follow-up evaluation five months later again showed increased ACTH levels. Cortisol levels, however, were normal.

For the next seven years, the patient was evaluated every six months. During a five-year period, the size of the right adrenal gland was found to have grown. Imaging analysis confirmed the existence of small, new lesions in both pituitary glands.

“This case confers valuable information about the clinical course of adrenal myelolipoma associated with Cushing disease,” the researchers said. It also “supports the notion that ACTH can be associated with the development of bilateral adrenal myelolipomas.”


Pituitary Incidentaloma Treatment Guideline



It is unclear how many people have pituitary incidentaloma, but imaging and autopsy studies indicate they are quite common and occur in up to one-third of patients. Fortunately, the vast majority of these serendipitously discovered tumors are clinically insignificant.

A management guideline in the Annals of Endocrinology brings endocrinologists up to date on current thinking about pituitary incidentaloma management.   Endocrinologists classify these tumors as micro- or macro-. Microincidentalomas are discovered in around 10% of patients, often upon CT after a fall, and are less than 1 cm in diameter. They may grow, but only 5% proceed to macroincidentaloma.

Currently, experts recommend assessing nonfunctioning (NF) microincidentaloma clinically for signs of hypersecretion (hyperprolactinemia, acromegaly or Cushing’s syndrome), with subsequent systematic prolactin and IGF-1 assay.   Pituitary incidentalomas that are larger than 1 cm at discovery—macroincidentalomas—are more likely to grow, with 25% and 24%-40% of patients having larger tumors at 4 and 8 years after diagnosis respectively.

Concerns escalate and closer surveillance is needed if a macroadenoma is in contact with the optic chiasm. With any NF macroincidentaloma, experts recommend assessing patients for signs of hormonal hypersecretion or hypopituitarism. Then, laboratory screening for hypersecretion or hormonal deficiency is needed, as is ophthalmologic assessment (visual acuity and visual field) if the lesion is near the optic chiasm (OC).   Surveillance differs by tumor size, with 5 mm the cutoff for NF microincidentaloma.

Tumors smaller than that require no surveillance, and those larger need to be monitored with MRI at 6 months and then 2 years. Endocrinologists should revisit macroincidentaloma distant from the optic chiasm with MRI at 1 year and conduct hormonal exploration (for anterior pituitary deficiency), then monitor every 2 years.   Proximity to the optic chiasm often creates a need for surgery or increased vigilance. MRI is recommended at 6 months, with hormonal and visual assessment, then annual MRI and hormonal and visual assessment every 6 months.

Specific types of pituitary incidentaloma call for surgery: evolutive NF microincidentaloma, NF macroincidentaloma associated with hypopituitarism or showing progression, incidentaloma compressing the optic chiasm, possible malignancy, non-compliant patient, pregnancy desired in the short-term, or context at risk of apoplexy.

Few guidelines are published for pituitary incidentaloma, and this one is enhanced with a decision tree that walks endocrinologist through the recommendations. –

See more at:

Endoscopic Pituitary Surgery – Remission Rates and Gland Preservation – Daniel F. Kelly, MD

2015 California Pituitary Conference

Dr. Daniel Kelly discusses the outcomes of endoscopic pituitary surgery with regards to endocrine function. He analyzes the current literature and the Pacific Brain Tumor Center’s experience with remission rates of hormone secreting tumors. He also evaluates the rate of pituitary dysfunction following pituitary tumor surgery.

Genetics of adrenal diseases in 2014: Genetics improves understanding of adrenocortical tumours

2014 has seen advances in our understanding of benign and malignant tumours of the adrenal cortex, particularly in Cushing syndrome. Modern genetics has generated a flurry of data. The challenge is to give sense to them; however, the difficulties of collecting the clinical data must not be underestimated.

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  • References
  1. Beuschlein, F. et al. Constitutive activation of PKA catalytic subunit in adrenal Cushing’s syndrome. N. Engl. J. Med. 370, 10191028 (2014).
  2. Goh, G. et al. Recurrent activating mutation in PRKACA in cortisol-producing adrenal tumors. Nat. Genet. 46, 613617 (2014).
  3. Sato, Y. et al. Recurrent somatic mutations underlie corticotropin-independent Cushing’s syndrome. Science 344, 917920 (2014).
  4. Cao, Y. et al. Activating hotspot L205R mutation in PRKACA and adrenal Cushing’s syndrome. Science 344, 913917 (2014).
  5. Assié, G. et al. ARMC5 mutations in macronodular adrenal hyperplasia with Cushing’s syndrome. N. Engl. J. Med. 369, 21052114 (2013).
  6. Assié, G. et al. Integrated genomic characterization of adrenocortical carcinoma. Nat. Genet. 46, 607612 (2014).
  7. Beuschlein, F. et al. Somatic mutations in ATP1A1 and ATP2B3 lead to aldosterone-producing adenomas and secondary hypertension. Nat. Genet. 45, 440444 (2013).
  8. Scholl, U. I. et al. Somatic and germline CACNA1D calcium channel mutations in aldosterone-producing adenomas and primary aldosteronism. Nat. Genet. 45,10501054 (2013).
  9. Azizan, E. A. et al. Somatic mutations in ATP1A1 and CACNA1D underlie a common subtype of adrenal hypertension. Nat. Genet. 45, 10551060 (2013).
  10. Fernandes-Rosa, F. L. et al. Genetic spectrum and clinical correlates of somatic mutations in aldosterone-producing adenoma. Hypertension 64, 354361 (2014).

Myth: It is MY fault that I got Cushing’s…

Myth: “It is MY fault that I got Cushing’s. I did something wrong that caused me to be sick! If I would have just done XYZ, this would not be happening to me!”


Fact: This is a very controversial topic because we don’t like to talk about it. However, many people struggle with this myth. We NEED to dispel this myth my friends! Patients themselves assume responsibility, accountability, and self blame for becoming ill.

To compound all of that, patients are often told by loved ones, family, and sometimes even their churches or other supports that there is something that THEY could be doing or haven’t done that has caused their declining health. “If you would just follow that raw food diet, then all of your symptoms would go away”, “Juicing is the answer! I told you to juice and you wouldn’t get those tumors!”, Sometimes, you are told that if you would just pray harder or have greater faith, then there is no way that you would be sick right now. And my absolute favorite, “you are just too obsessed with being sick and having Cushing’s!  Stop thinking that you have it and it will go away!”.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I find value in “positive thinking” and affirming health, wealth, and all kinds of great things. This helps build up strength and personally keeps me motivated, especially during the times that I feel like absolutely throwing in the towel and giving up!

However, I am NOT the reason and YOU are not the reason for this war with this dreadful disease. What many people don’t understand is how tenacious, brave, courageous, and INDOMITABLE you are! Cushing’s patients do not just get surgery and then everything is magically OK.

Many patients have to go through multiple surgeries, sometimes radiation, sometimes years of testing to find the ultimate source of the disease, even after having several organs messed with. Even after patients obtain their “cure”, they are faced with residual and lingering negative effects of the illness, other hormone dysregulation issues, and the anxiety and fear of a recurrence which is based in absolute reality.

There are people, like myself, who are in remission from Cushing’s, BUT we now have Addison’s Disease/Adrenal Insufficiency as a result of removing vital organs in order to save our lives from Cushing’s. So, are we to think that Adrenal Insufficiency is ALSO our faults every time we near death after an adrenal crisis?! NO! NO! NO!

This is NOT your fault! This is NOT your doing! STOP blaming yourself! The best you can do is to FIGHT! Take an empowered stance by saying “NO” to those who won’t listen. Say “NO” to those who project blame onto you and tell you that this is just a “fat person’s excuse to stay fat”. You are not just a “fat person”! YOU are an amazing person who is fighting for your life!

Let me be clear that this blaming is common and we all do it. In my “5 stages of Loss” series on Youtube; I address the “Bargaining” stage of loss, in which we assume responsibility for getting sick or even for getting better.

Everyone should watch this to understand why and how we do this:

Remember, you are a survivor! YOU are Indomitable!!! This is NOT your fault! You WILL overcome!

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