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Wannachalee T, et al. Clin Endocrinol. 2019;doi:10.1111/cen.14008. May 20, 2019 A radioactive diagnostic agent for PET imaging effectively localized primary tumors or metastases in most adults with ectopic Cushing’s syndrome, leading to changes in clinical management for 64% of patients, according to findings from a retrospective study published in Clinical Endocrinology. As Endocrine Today previously reported, the FDA approved the first kit for the preparation of gallium Ga-68 dotatate injection (Netspot, Advanced Accelerator Applications USA Inc.), a radioactive diagnostic agent for PET scan imaging, in June 2016. The radioactive probe is designed to help locate tumors in adult and pediatric patients with somatostatin receptor-positive neuroendocrine tumors. Ga-68 dotatate, a positron-emitting analogue of somatostatin, works by binding to the hormone. In a retrospective review, Richard Auchus, MD, PhD, professor of pharmacology and internal medicine in the division of metabolism, endocrinology and diabetes at the University of Michigan, and colleagues analyzed data from 28 patients with ectopic Cushing’s syndrome who underwent imaging with gallium Ga-68 dotatate for identification of the primary tumor or follow-up between November 2016 and October 2018 (mean age, 50 years; 22 women). All imaging was completed at tertiary referral centers at Mayo Clinic, University of Michigan and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Researchers assessed patient demographics, imaging modalities, histopathological results and treatment data. Diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome was confirmed by clinical and hormonal evaluation. The clinical impact of gallium Ga-68 dotatate was defined as the detection of primary ectopic Cushing’s syndrome or new metastatic foci, along with changes in clinical management. Within the cohort, 17 patients underwent imaging with gallium Ga-68 dotatate for identification of the primary tumor and 11 underwent the imaging for follow-up. Researchers found that gallium Ga-68 dotatate identified suspected primary ectopic Cushing’s syndrome in 11 of 17 patients (65%), of which seven tumors were solitary and four were metastatic. Diagnosis was confirmed by pathology in eight of the 11 patients: Five patients had a bronchial neuroendocrine tumor, one patient had a thymic tumor, one had a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor, and one metastatic neuroendocrine tumor was of unknown primary origin. One patient had a false positive scan, according to researchers. Among the 11 patients with ectopic Cushing’s syndrome who underwent gallium Ga-68 dotatate imaging to assess disease burden or recurrence, the imaging led to changes in clinical management in seven cases (64%), according to researchers. “Our study demonstrates the high sensitivity of [gallium Ga-68 dotatate] in the localization of [ectopic Cushing’s syndrome], for both occult primary tumors and metastatic lesions,” the researchers wrote. “Importantly, the use of [gallium Ga-68 dotatate] impacted clinical management in 64% of patients with [ectopic Cushing’s syndrome] overall.” The researchers noted that the high cost and limited availability of PET/CT imaging might preclude the widespread use of gallium Ga-68 dotatate for imaging in patients with suspected ectopic Cushing’s syndrome, and that experience with the scans remains limited vs. other imaging studies. “Nevertheless, combing the experience of three large referral centers, our study gathers the largest number of [patients with ectopic Cushing’s syndrome] imaged with [gallium Ga-68 dotatate] to date and provides a benchmark for the utility of this diagnostic modality for this rare but highly morbid condition,” the researchers wrote. – by Regina Schaffer Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures. From https://www.healio.com/endocrinology/adrenal/news/online/%7B69e458a8-e9a0-4567-a786-00868118b435%7D/imaging-agent-effectively-detects-localizes-tumors-in-cushings-syndrome
A patient with depression developed Cushing’s syndrome (CS) because of a rare ACTH-secreting small cell cancer of the prostate, a case study reports. The case report, “An unusual cause of depression in an older man: Cushing’s syndrome resulting from metastatic small cell cancer of the prostate,” was published in the “Lesson of the Month” section of Clinical Medicine. Ectopic CS is a condition caused by an adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-secreting tumor outside the pituitary or adrenal glands. The excess ACTH then acts on the adrenal glands, causing them to produce too much cortisol. Small cell cancer is more common in older men, those in their 60s or 70s. Sources of ectopic ACTH synthesis arising in the pelvis are rare; nonetheless, ACTH overproduction has been linked to tumors in the gonads and genitourinary organs, including the prostate. Still, evidence suggests there are less than 30 published cases reporting ectopic CS caused by prostate cancer. Researchers from the Southern Adelaide Local Health Network and the Royal Adelaide Hospital in Australia described the case of an 84-year-old man who complained of fatigue, back pain, and lack of appetite. Blood tests revealed mildly elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and creatinine levels, which could indicate the presence of prostate cancer and impaired kidney function, respectively. The patient had a history of locally invasive prostate cancer even though he didn’t experience any symptoms of this disease. Ultrasound examination showed an enlarged prostate plus obstructed ureters — the tubes that carry urine from the kidney to the bladder. To remove the obstruction, doctors inserted a thin tube into both ureters and restored urine flow. After the procedure, the man had low levels of calcium, a depressed mood, and back pain, all of which compromised his recovery. Imaging of his back showed no obvious reason for his complaints, and he was discharged. Eight days later, the patient went to the emergency room of a large public hospital because of back pain radiating to his left buttock. The man also had mild proximal weakness on both sides. He was thinner, and had low levels of calcium, high blood pressure and serum bicarbonate levels, plus elevated blood sugar. In addition, his depression was much worse. A psychiatrist prescribed him an antidepressant called mirtazapine, and regular follow-up showed that his mood did improve with therapy. A computed tomography (CT) scan revealed a 10.5 cm tumor on the prostate and metastasis on the lungs and liver. Further testing showed high serum cortisol and ACTH levels, consistent with a diagnosis of Cushing’s syndrome. But researchers could not identify the ACTH source, and three weeks later, the patient died of a generalized bacterial infection, despite treatment with broad-spectrum antibiotics. An autopsy revealed that the cancer had spread to the pelvic sidewalls and to one of the adrenal glands. Tissue analysis revealed that the patient had two types of cancer: acinar adenocarcinoma and small cell neuroendocrine carcinoma — which could explain the excess ACTH. Cause of death was bronchopneumonia, a severe inflammation of the lungs, triggered by an invasive fungal infection. Investigators believe there are things to be learned from this case, saying, “Neither the visceral metastases nor aggressive growth of the pelvic mass noted on imaging were typical of prostatic adenocarcinoma. [Plus], an incomplete diagnosis at death was the precipitant for a post-mortem examination. The autopsy findings were beneficial to the patient’s family and treating team. The case was discussed at a regular teaching meeting at a large tertiary hospital and, thus, was beneficial to a wide medical audience.” Although a rare cause of ectopic ACTH synthesis, small cell prostate cancer should be considered in men presenting with Cushing’s syndrome, especially in those with a “mystery” source of ACTH overproduction. “This case highlights the importance of multidisciplinary evaluation of clinical cases both [before and after death], and is a fine example of how autopsy findings can be used to benefit a wide audience,” the researchers concluded. https://cushingsdiseasenews.com/2018/10/16/rare-prostate-cancer-prostate-associated-cushings-syndrome-case-report/
Ectopic Cushing’s syndrome can be challenging to diagnose, especially when it comes identifying the problem source. But appropriate hormone management protocols, used in combination with advanced imaging methods, may help physicians identify ectopic ACTH-producing tumors. The findings in a case report of a young man with ectopic Cushing’s syndrome were published in the International Journal of Surgery Case Reports, under the title “Case report: Ectopic Cushing’s syndrome in a young male with hidden lung carcinoid tumor.” Cushing’s syndrome is caused by high amounts of glucocoticosteroids in the blood. The most common cause is a malfunction of the glands that produce these hormones. In some cases, however, the disease may be caused by tumors elsewhere in the body that have the ability to produce adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). In half of all Cushing’s patients, ectopic ACTH is produced by small lung cell carcinomas or lung carcinoids (a type of slow-growing lung cancer). But some tumors in the thymus and pancreas also have been found to produce ACTH. Researchers at Damascus University Hospital in Syria presented the case of a 26-year-old man who had ectopic Cushing’s syndrome due to lung carcinoids. The patient presented with increased appetite and rapid weight gain for more than a year. These were associated with headache, fatigue, proximal muscle weakness, and easy bruising. He had no family history of hormonal disorder. Based on the initial physical and symptom evaluation, the clinical team suspected Cushing’s syndrome. Blood analysis revealed high levels of cortisol and ACTH hormones, which supported the diagnosis. Administration of dexamethasone, a treatment used to inhibit the production of glucocoticosteroids by the pituitary gland, reduced cortisol levels within normal range, but not ACTH levels. This led to the diagnosis of ectopic Cushing’s syndrome. The next step was to identify the tumor causing the syndrome. The team conducted imaging studies of the brain, chest, and abdomen, but found no tumor. Because ectopic ACTH is commonly produced by lung cancers, the team then analyzed the patient’s lungs. Again, they failed to detect a tumor. The patient was discharged with prescription of 200 mg of Nizoral (ketoconazole) once-daily, calcium, and vitamin D. After three months of treatment, he remained stable, with no evidence of symptom improvement. At this point, the team decided to surgically remove both adrenal glands in an attempt to reduce the hormone levels. Treatment with prednisolone 5 mg and fludrocortisone 0.1 mg once daily was initiated, along with calcium and vitamin D. Eighteen months later, the patient’s condition worsened and he required hospitalization. Imaging tests targeting the neck, chest, and abdomen were conducted again. This time, physicians detected a 2 cm mass in the middle lobe of the right lung, which was removed surgically. Detailed analysis of the small tumor confirmed that it was the source of the excessive ACTH. “ACTH secreting tumors can be very hard to detect,” the researchers stated. “Initial failed localization is common in ectopic ACTH syndrome and it is usually due to carcinoid.” Cases where the ectopic ACTH production is caused by a carcinoid tumor can be challenging to diagnose because tumors are small and relatively slow-growing. Imaging data is often hard to analyze and the tumors can be confused with pulmonary vessels, the researchers explained. “In such cases we should first aim to lower blood cortisol medically or through bilateral adrenalectomy to avoid Cushing’s complications,” which should then “be followed up through imaging studies (CT, MRI, scintigraphy or PET) to detect the tumor and resect it, which is the definitive treatment of these patients,” the researchers concluded. From https://cushingsdiseasenews.com/2017/12/12/case-report-ectopic-acth-producing-lung-tumors-can-hard-detect/