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  1. The occurrence of different subtypes of endogenous Cushing’s syndrome (CS) in single individuals is extremely rare. We here present the case of a female patient who was successfully cured from adrenal CS 4 years before being diagnosed with Cushing’s disease (CD). The patient was diagnosed at the age of 50 with ACTH-independent CS and a left-sided adrenal adenoma, in January 2015. After adrenalectomy and histopathological confirmation of a cortisol-producing adrenocortical adenoma, biochemical hypercortisolism and clinical symptoms significantly improved. However, starting from 2018, the patient again developed signs and symptoms of recurrent CS. Subsequent biochemical and radiological workup suggested the presence of ACTH-dependent CS along with a pituitary microadenoma. The patient underwent successful transsphenoidal adenomectomy, and both postoperative adrenal insufficiency and histopathological workup confirmed the diagnosis of CD. Exome sequencing excluded a causative germline mutation but showed somatic mutations of the β-catenin protein gene (CTNNB1) in the adrenal adenoma, and of both the ubiquitin specific peptidase 8 (USP8) and the glucocorticoid receptor (NR3C1) genes in the pituitary adenoma. In conclusion, our case illustrates that both ACTH-independent and ACTH-dependent CS may develop in a single individual even without evidence for a common genetic background. Introduction Endogenous Cushing´s syndrome (CS) is a rare disorder with an incidence of 0.2–5.0 per million people per year (1, 2). The predominant subtype (accounting for about 80%) is adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-dependent CS. The vast majority of this subtype is due to an ACTH-secreting pituitary adenoma [so called Cushing´s disease (CD)], whereas ectopic ACTH-secretion (e.g. through pulmonary carcinoids) is much less common. In contrast, ACTH-independent CS can mainly be attributed to cortisol-producing adrenal adenomas. Adrenocortical carcinomas, uni-/bilateral adrenal hyperplasia, and primary pigmented nodular adrenocortical disease (PPNAD) may account for some of these cases as well (3, 4). Coexistence of different subtypes of endogenous CS in single individuals is even rarer but has been described in few reports. These cases were usually observed in the context of prolonged ACTH stimulation on the adrenal glands, resulting in micronodular or macronodular hyperplasia (5–9). A sequence of CD and PPNAD was also described in presence of Carney complex, a genetic syndrome characterized by the loss of function of the gene encoding for the regulatory subunit type 1α of protein kinase A (PRKAR1A) (10). Moreover, another group reported the case of a patient with Cushing's disease followed by ectopic Cushing's syndrome more than 30 years later (8). To our knowledge, however, we here describe the first case report on a single patient with a cortisol-producing adrenocortical adenoma and subsequent CD. Read the rest of the article at https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fendo.2021.731579/full
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  2. A team of scientists in Montreal and Paris has succeeded in identifying the gene responsible for the development of a food-dependent form of Cushing’s Syndrome, a rare disease affecting both adrenal glands. In their study published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, Dr. Isabelle Bourdeau and Dr. Peter Kamenicky identify in the gene KDM1A the mutations responsible for the development of this unusual form of the disease. The scientists also show, for the first time, that the disease is genetically transmitted. Bourdeau is a researcher and a Université de Montréal medical professor practising at the CHUM Research Centre (CRCHUM), while Kamenicky works at the Hôpital de Bicêtre, part of the Assistance publique-hôpitaux de Paris network in France. Cushing’s Syndrome is caused by the overproduction of cortisol, a steroid hormone, by the two adrenal glands located above the kidneys. “When the tissues of the human body are exposed to this excess of cortisol, the effects for those with the disease are serious: weight gain, high blood pressure, depression, osteoporosis, and heart complications, for example,” said Bourdeau, co-lead author of the study with Dr. Fanny Chasseloup, a colleague from the French team. This discovery comes nearly 30 years after food-induced Cushing’s Syndrome was first described in 1992 by a research group led by Dr. André Lacroix at the CRCHUM and his colleagues Drs. Johanne Tremblay and Pavel Hamet. The form of the disease being studied by Bourdeau and her colleagues is caused specifically by the abnormal expression of the receptors of a hormone named GIP (glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide), in both adrenal glands of patients. This hormone is produced by the small intestine in response to food intake. For people with the disease, cortisol concentrations increase abnormally every time they ingest food. The discovery of the genetic mechanism by the French and Quebec teams was made possible through the use of recent cutting-edge genetic techniques on tissues of patients including those investigated by Dr Lacroix at CHUM. Bourdeau was aided by CRCHUM researcher Martine Tétreault during the computer analyses related to the research project. Earlier diagnosis thanks to genetic analysis “In general, rare diseases are generally underdiagnosed in clinics,” said Bourdeau, the medical director of the adrenal tumors multidisciplinary team at the CHUM. “By identifying this new gene, we now have a way of diagnosing our patients and their families earlier and thus offer more personalized medicine. At the CHUM, genetic analysis is already offered in our Genetic Medicine Division.” In a remarkable demonstration of scientific cooperation, the Quebec and French teams were able to collect and study tissue specimens available in local and international biobanks in Canada, France, Italy, Greece, Belgium and the Netherlands. Blood and adrenal gland tissue samples of 17 patients—mostly women—diagnosed with GIP-dependent Cushing’s Syndrome were compared genetically with those of 29 others with non-GIP-dependent bilateral adrenal Cushing’s Syndrome. This was quite an accomplishment, given the rarity of the disease in the general population. It allowed the researchers to identify the genetic mutations of the KDM1A gene and to determine that the disease is genetically transmitted. Since 2009, the CHUM has been designated as the adrenal tumors quaternary care centre of the Quebec Cancer Program. About this study  “Loss of KDM1A in GIP-dependent primary bilateral macronodular adrenal hyperplasia with Cushing’s syndrome: a multicenter retrospective cohort study,” by Drs. Fanny Chasseloup, Isabelle Bourdeau and their colleagues, was published Oct. 13, 2021, in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. Funding was provided by the Agence nationale de la recherche, the Fondation du Grand défi Pierre Lavoie, the Institut national du cancer, the Fonds de recherche du Québec-Santé, INSERM and Assistance publique-hôpitaux de Paris. About the CRCHUM The University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM) is one of North America’s leading hospital research centres. It strives to improve adult health through a research continuum covering such disciplines as the fundamental sciences, clinical research and public health. Over 1,850 people work at the CRCHUM, including more than 550 researchers and more than 460 graduate students Media contact Jeff HeinrichUniversité de MontréalTel: 514 343-7593 Lucie DufresneCentre hospitalier de l’Université de MontréalTel: 514 890-8000 p. 15380
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  3. Example: Make sure the last urine is exactly 24 hours after you started the clock (when you discard the first urine). Any 24-hour period is fine. Urinate at 7:00 am Monday morning and flush. Start your clock and collect every drop of urine up to and including 7:00 am on Tuesday morning (set an alarm if necessary). If you are doing multiple tests, they should give you a new jug when you turn the first one in. Your doctor or the lab should give you a urine "hat" - this will help with collection. If not, amazon sells them:
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  4. What You Need to Know COVID-19 Vaccine booster shots are available for the following Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine recipients who completed their initial series at least 6 months ago and are: 65 years and older Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions Age 18+ who work in high-risk settings Age 18+ who live in high-risk settings Those "underlying medical conditions" include diabetes and obesity.
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  5. Personal Stories: From my bio: (At the NIH in October 1987) The MRI still showed nothing, so they did a Petrosal Sinus Sampling Test. That scared me more than the prospect of surgery. (This test carries the risk of stroke and uncontrollable bleeding from the incision points.) Catheters were fed from my groin area to my pituitary gland and dye was injected. I could watch the whole procedure on monitors. I could not move during this test or for several hours afterwards to prevent uncontrollable bleeding from a major artery. The test did show where the tumor probably was located. Also done were more sophisticated dexamethasone suppression tests where drugs were administered by IV and blood was drawn every hour (they put a heplock in my arm so they don't have to keep sticking me). I got to go home for a weekend and then went back for the surgery... _____ From Karen's Story: https://cushingsbios.com/2016/11/18/doc-karen-pituitary-and-bla-bio/ At that time, there was evidence of a pit tumor but it wasn’t showing up on an MRI. So, I had my IPSS scheduled. An IPSS stands for Inferior Petrosal Sinus Sampling. It is done because 60 % of Cushing’s based pituitary tumors are so small that they do not show up on an MRI. Non Cushing’s experts do not know this so they often blow patients off, even after the labs show a high level of ACTH in the brain through blood work. An overproduction of the hormone ACTH from the pituitary communicates to the adrenal glands to overproduce cortisol. Well, the IPSS procedure is where they put catheters up through your groin through your body up into your head to draw samples to basically see which side of your pituitary the extra hormone is coming from, thus indicating where the tumor is. U of C is the only place in IL that does it. ... I was scheduled to get an IPSS at U of C on June 28th, 2011 to locate the tumor. Two days after the IPSS, I began having spontaneous blackouts and ended up in the hospital for 6 days. The docs out here had no clue what was happening and I was having between 4-7 blackouts a day! My life was in danger and they were not helping me! We don’t know why, but the IPSS triggered something! But, no one wanted to be accountable so they told me the passing out, which I was not doing before, was all in my head being triggered by psychological issues. They did run many tests. But, they were all the wrong tests. I say all the time; it’s like going into Subway and ordering a turkey sandwich and giving them money and getting a tuna sandwich. You would be mad! What if they told you, “We gave you a sandwich!” Even if they were to give you a dozen sandwiches; if it wasn’t turkey, it wouldn’t be the right one. This is how I feel about these tests that they ran and said were all “normal”. The doctors kept telling us that they ran all of these tests so they could cover themselves. Yet, they were not looking at the right things, even though, I (the patient) kept telling them that this was an endocrine issue and had something to do with my tumor! Well, guess how good God is?!!!! ... Fast forward, I ended up in the hospital with these blackouts after my IPSS. The doctors, including MY local endocrinologist told me there was no medical evidence for my blackouts. In fact, he told the entire treatment team that he even doubted if I even had a tumor! However, this is the same man who referred me for the IPSS in the first place! I was literally dying and no one was helping me! We reached out to Dr. Ludlam in Seattle and told him of the situation. He told me he knew exactly what was going on. For some reason, there was a change in my brain tumor activity that happened after my IPSS. No one, to this day, has been able to answer the question as to whether the IPSS caused the change in tumor activity. The tumor, for some reason, began shutting itself on and off. When it would shut off, my cortisol would drop and would put me in a state of adrenal insufficiency, causing these blackouts! Dr. Ludlam said as soon as we were discharged, we needed to fly out to Seattle so that he could help me! The hospital discharged me in worse condition then when I came in. I had a blackout an hour after discharge! But get this…The DAY the hospital sent me home saying that I did not have a pit tumor, my IPSS results were waiting for me! EVIDENCE OF TUMOR ON THE LEFT SIDE OF MY PITUITARY GLAND!!! _____ From Kirsty: https://cushingsbios.com/2013/06/25/kirsty-kirstymnz-ectopic-adrenal-bio/ The hardest of all these was what they call a petrusal vein sampling (this is where they insert a catheter into the groin through the femoral vein which goes up to the base of the brain to look at the pituitary, they do this while awake – I could actually feel them moving around in my head.) This test concluded that my Cushing’s was being caused by a tumor somewhere other than the pituitary (this only happens in 1% of cases, and there is about a 1 in 10 million chance of getting it). The question now was “where is the tumor?” _____ Find other bios with which mention this test at https://cushingsbios.com/tag/ipss/ __________ This topic on these message boards: https://cushings.invisionzone.com/forum/54-css-ct-ipss-ivp-mri-np-59-scan-octreoscan-pss-sonogram-ultrasound/ __________ Thoughts from Dr. James Findling: https://cushieblogger.com/2019/03/24/cushings-syndrome-expert-a-standout-in-clinical-practice/ Another defining moment in my career from a research perspective was when I was a fellow, I had to do a project. We were seeing a lot of patients with Cushing’s — of course, that’s why I went there — and in those days we had no good imaging. There were no CT scans, no MRI, there was no way to image the pituitary gland to find out whether there was a tumor. By the late ’70s it became obvious that some patients with Cushing’s syndrome didn’t have pituitary tumors. They had tumors in their lungs and other places, and there was no good way of sorting these patients from the pituitary patients. My mentor at UCSF, Blake Tyrrell, MD, had the idea of sampling from the jugular vein to see if there was a gradient across the pituitary. I took the project up because I didn’t think this is going to be helpful due to there being too much venous admixture in the jugular vein from other sources of cerebral venous drainage. We went into the radiology suite to do the first patient. As I was sampling blood from the peripheral veins, the interventional radiologist, David Norman, MD, says, “Would you like to sample the inferior petrosal sinus?” I said, “Why not? It sounds like a good idea to me.” That turned out to be helpful. We then studied several patients, and it eventually went to publication. Now everybody acknowledges it is necessary, maybe not in all patients with Cushing’s, but in many patients with Cushing’s to separate pituitary from nonpituitary Cushing’s syndrome. __________ Official information Patient information from Canterbury Health Limited Endocrine Services INFERIOR PETROSAL SINUS SAMPLING WITH CRH STIMULATION Introduction You have been diagnosed with Cushing's syndrome which results from excessive production of the hormone cortisol, made by the adrenal glands. In your case, the adrenal glands are being driven by excessive amounts of another hormone called ACTH. This test is to determine where that ACTH is coming from. Constant high levels of ACTH are usually caused by a tumor. Approximately 80% of cases are tumors of the pituitary gland while the remainder may occur in the lung, pancreas and other sites (known as "ectopic" sites). This test relies on the fact that if the source of your high ACTH is the pituitary gland blood levels taken from very near the gland will be higher than the blood level in an arm vein. Pituitary gland tumors are often tiny and can't be seen even with the most modern scanners. This test will help your endocrinologist to know with almost 100% certainty whether the pituitary gland is the source or if a search is needed elsewhere (for example in the lungs or abdomen). This guides treatment, for example the recommendation for Pituitary surgery. Procedure You are allowed water only from midnight the night before (nothing else to eat or drink). You will be given a light sedative, but will be awake during the procedure. You will be taken to the Radiology Department where the procedure will take place. The radiologist will place some local anesthetic into the groin on each side over the main vein that drains blood from each leg. Then a fine bore catheter will be passed up the vein, past the heart and into the major vein in the neck (the jugular vein). From there it is passed into a smaller vein that drains blood directly from the pituitary gland, known as the inferior petrosal sinus. The procedure is repeated for the other side. X-ray screening guides the radiologist to know where the catheters are positioned. A small butterfly needle is inserted into an arm vein. Once the catheters are in place, blood samples will be taken from the right and left petrosal sinus, and an arm vein at exactly the same time. After two baseline samples, a hormone called CRH is injected into the arm vein. This increases ACTH when a pituitary gland tumor is present, but has no effect on ectopic ACTH production. Further blood samples are taken for another 10 to 15 minutes, then the catheters are withdrawn. Pressure is applied to the groins to minimize bruising. Often sampling is continued from the arm vein only, for a total of 90 minutes. You will have to remain lying on your back for at least 2 hours afterwards. Risks This procedure is very safe when performed by an experienced radiologist. Rarely, there have been reports of people having a stroke at the time of this procedure but this was related to a catheter of faulty design which is now no longer used. Bruising, which is common in Cushing's syndrome, may occur after the catheters are pulled out. Some people notice flushing of the face after the CRH and rarely it can result in a fall in blood pressure. From: http://www.pituitarycenter.com/html/article1.html INFERIOR PETROSAL SINUS SAMPLING Patients who are suspected of having a pituitary tumor resulting in Cushing's syndrome may be referred for inferior petrosal sinus sampling if findings on MRI examination of the pituitary did not reveal a tumor or are inconclusive. The inferior petrosal sinus sampling procedure is performed in the radiology department. With the patient on the angiography table both groin regions are partially shaved, sterilized, and a local anesthetic is injected into the skin to provide pain relief. A tiny incision is made within the skin and a needle is inserted to puncture the femoral vein which drains blood from the leg. A small catheter is then inserted into the vein and flushed with an intravenous solution. Longer catheters are passed into the shorter catheters and advanced through the large veins traversing the torso into the neck and then into the base of the skull. Thereafter, a microcatheter is advanced through each of these larger guiding catheters and threaded into the inferior petrosal sinuses which lie along the internal aspect of the skull base and drain blood from the pituitary gland. Once these microcatheters have been positioned, contrast dye is injected and X-rays are taken to verify their position in the inferior petrosal sinuses. Next, blood samples are collected from both catheters in the inferior petrosal sinuses and from a peripheral (usually arm) vein. Thereafter, corticotropin-releasing hormone is administered through the peripheral vein. Repeat blood samples are drawn 2, 5, and 10 minutes after the injection. Additional X-rays are taken to confirm that the catheters were not dislodged from their site during the sampling procedure. Thereafter, the catheters are removed and direct pressure is applied to the groin region to decrease the likelihood of bruising. Patients are observed for 4 hours following the procedure to ensure that no bleeding from the femoral vein puncture sites will occur. Normal non-strenuous activity may be resumed 48 hours after the procedure. Sedatives and pain relievers may be administered during the procedure as necessary. A blood thinner might be used depending on the patient's anatomy and the clinical suspicion of developing a blood clot. If a blood thinner is used, this may be counteracted with medication at the conclusion of the procedure to ensure that normal blood clotting resumes while removing the catheters. Overall, the inferior petrosal sinus sampling procedure involves minimal discomfort. The risks of the procedure are small. X-rays are used but the radiation doses are minimized. Infection is controlled by using sterile technique. Some patients might have an unexpected allergic reaction to the dye used during the study. A bruise may develop within the groin. Although rare, blood clots have developed in the groin veins following this procedure. Again, steps are taken to minimize the likelihood of each and every one of these complications. ACTH levels are measured in each of the blood samples obtained during the procedure. The ratios between the petrosal sinus sampling and the peripheral vein samples are compared. The results are used to determine whether ACTH production is due to either a pituitary or a non-pituitary source. ___ From: http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/pituitarycenter/html/article1.html Patients who are suspected of having a pituitary tumor resulting in Cushing's syndrome may be referred for inferior petrosal sinus sampling if findings on MRI examination of the pituitary did not reveal a tumor or are inconclusive. The inferior petrosal sinus sampling procedure is performed in the radiology department. With the patient on the angiography table both groin regions are partially shaved, sterilized, and a local anesthetic is injected into the skin to provide pain relief. A tiny incision is made within the skin and a needle is inserted to puncture the femoral vein which drains blood from the leg. A small catheter is then inserted into the vein and flushed with an intravenous solution. Longer catheters are passed into the shorter catheters and advanced through the large veins traversing the torso into the neck and then into the base of the skull. Thereafter, a microcatheter is advanced through each of these larger guiding catheters and threaded into the inferior petrosal sinuses which lie along the internal aspect of the skull base and drain blood from the pituitary gland. Once these microcatheters have been positioned, contrast dye is injected and X-rays are taken to verify their position in the inferior petrosal sinuses. Next, blood samples are collected from both catheters in the inferior petrosal sinuses and from a peripheral (usually arm) vein. Thereafter, corticotropin-releasing hormone is administered through the peripheral vein. Repeat blood samples are drawn 2, 5, and 10 minutes after the injection. Additional X-rays are taken to confirm that the catheters were not dislodged from their site during the sampling procedure. Thereafter, the catheters are removed and direct pressure is applied to the groin region to decrease the likelihood of bruising. Patients are observed for 4 hours following the procedure to ensure that no bleeding from the femoral vein puncture sites will occur. Normal non-strenuous activity may be resumed 48 hours after the procedure. Sedatives and pain relievers may be administered during the procedure as necessary. A blood thinner might be used depending on the patient's anatomy and the clinical suspicion of developing a blood clot. If a blood thinner is used, this may be counteracted with medication at the conclusion of the procedure to ensure that normal blood clotting resumes while removing the catheters. Overall, the inferior petrosal sinus sampling procedure involves minimal discomfort. The risks of the procedure are small. X-rays are used but the radiation doses are minimized. Infection is controlled by using sterile technique. Some patients might have an unexpected allergic reaction to the dye used during the study. A bruise may develop within the groin. Although rare, blood clots have developed in the groin veins following this procedure. Again, steps are taken to minimize the likelihood of each and every one of these complications. ACTH levels are measured in each of the blood samples obtained during the procedure. The ratios between the petrosal sinus sampling and the peripheral vein samples are compared. The results are used to determine whether ACTH production is due to either a pituitary or a non-pituitary source. ___ From https://www.uclahealth.org/radiology/interventional-neuroradiology/inferior-petrosal-sinus-sampling The IPSS test is done in some patients to identify if there is too much ACTH is causing the excess production of cortisol, and where it is coming from. How do we do an IPSS procedure? Typically under general anesthesia, we place small tubes (catheters) into the femoral veins (the main vein draining the legs) at the level of the groin. From there, under X-ray guidance, we navigate those catheters to the main veins which drain the Pituitary gland. These are the inferior petrosal sinuses (right and left). We then draw samples from those veins and the main vein of the abdomen and test those samples for ACTH. We also take timed samples after giving a dose of medication which would normally stimulate the production of ACTH to improve the sensitivity of the test. When we get the results, the different levels of ACTH may help the endocrinologist determine where the tumor is located that is causing the adrenal gland to produce the excess cortisol. If it is from the Pituitary gland, any difference between the right and left samples may help the surgeon determine the surgical plan to remove the tumor yet preserve the normal Pituitary gland. Example of testing results: Time Right IPS Left IPS Inf Vena Cava Cortisol Baseline 1 09:32 40 pg/ml 17 18 25 mcg/dl Baseline 2 09:34 45 18 15 24 DDAVP inj 09:38 Post 2min 09:40 72 21 18 Post 5min 09:43 157 20 19 Post 10min 09:48 161 30 25 Post 15min 09:53 162 33 26 Post 30min 10:08 124 32 29 30 This example shows elevation of ACTH in the right inferior petrosal sinus, likely indicating a tumor in the right side of the pituitary gland causing Cushing’s Disease. Picture of contrast injection of the inferior petrosal sinuses: Tips of the catheters in the inferior petrosal sinuses.
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  6. Kate** on the Cushing’s support board (Cushing’s Help and Support) wrote this letter after having pituitary surgery… Dear friends and family: I am writing this letter to share with you some basic facts about Cushing’s Disease/Syndrome and the recovery process so that you will have sufficient information to form realistic expectations about me and my ability to engage in certain activities in light of this disease and its aftermath. As you know, Cushing’s is a rarely diagnosed endocrine disorder characterized by hypercortisolism. Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands and is vital to regulate the body’s cardivoascular functions and metabolism, to boost the immune system and to fight inflammation. But its most important job is to help the body to respond to stress. The adrenal glands release cortisol in response to stress, so atheletes, women experiencing pregnancy, and those suffering from alcoholism, panic disorders and malnutrition naturally have higher-than-normal levels of cortisol. People with Cushing’s Syndrome live life with too much cortisol for their bodies as a result of a hormone-secreting tumor. Mine is located in the pituitary gland. Endogenous hypercortisolism leaves the body in a constant state of “fight or flight,” which ravages the body and tears down the body’s major systems including cardivascular, musculo-skeletal, endocrine, etc. Symptoms vary, but the most common symptoms include rapid, unexplained weight gain in the upper body with increased fat around the neck and face (“moon facies”); buffalo hump; facial flushing/plethora; muscle wasting in the arms and legs; purplish striae (stretch marks) on the abdomen, thighs, buttocks, arms and breasts; poor wound healing and bruising; severe fatigue; depression, anxiety disorders and emotional lability; cognitive difficulties; sleep disorders due to abnormally high nighttime cortisol production; high blood pressure and high blood sugar/diabetes; edema; vision problems; premature osteoperosis; and, in women, signs of hyperandrogenism such as menstrual irregularities, infertility, hirsutism, male-patterned balding and steroid-induced acne. Cushing's Symptoms http://www.cushings-info.com/images/1/12/Lady.gif A sketch of a typical Cushing’s patient. As you can see, the effects of the disease on the body are dramatic. Worse, the psychological and emotional effects of having a chronic, debilitating and disfiguring disease range from distressing to demoralizing. Imagine that, in the space of a year, you became unrecognizable to those around you and to yourself. You look in the mirror, but the person staring back a tyou is a stranger. You endure the stares and looks of pity from those who knew you before Cushing’s, fully aware that they believe you have “let yourself go” or otherwise allowed this to happen to your body. Nothing you can say or do will persuade them otherwise, so at some point, you stop trying and resolve to live your life in a stranger’s body. You feel increasingly sick, but when you explain your array of symptoms to your doctor, you are dismissed as a depressed hypochondriac who needs to diet and exercise more. Worse, your family members think the same thing — and are often quick to tell you how you need to “change your lifestyle” to overcome the effects of what you eventually will discover, once properly diagnosed, is a serious and rare disease. If only it were so simple! No one would choose to have Cushing’s. Those of us who have it would not wish it even on our worst enemy. Most people with Cushing’s long for the ability to do simple things, like walk a flight of stairs without having to sit for half an hour afterwards, or vacuum the house or even unload a dishwasher. One of the worst parts about this disease is the crushing fatigue and muscle wasting/weakness, which accompanies hypercortisolism. Not only do we become socially isolated because of the virilzing effects of an endocrine tumor, which drastically alters our appearance, but we no longer feel like ourselves with regard to energy. We would love to take a long bike ride, run three miles or go shopping like we used to — activities, which we took for granted before the disease struck. Those activities are sadly impossible at times for those with advanced stages of the disease. Sometimes, as with any serious illness, performing even basic tasks of daily care such as showering and dressing can exhaust the limited reserves of energy available to a Cushing’s patient. How do we explain to you what it’s like to watch our lives slip away? What response is sufficient to express the grief and frustration over losing so much of ourselves? It is often difficult to find the strength to explain how your well-meaning words of prompting and encouragement (to diet or exercise) only serve to leave us more isolated and feeling alone. Though we wouldn’t want it, we wish our disease were as well-understood as cancer so that those who love us would have a frame of reference for what we go through. With Cushing’s, there is such limited public awareness that we are left to describe the effects of the disease from a void, often with limited understanding from those who love us most, which is disheartening. The most frustrating misconception about this disease is that we somehow are “doing this to ourselves,” or delaying recovery because we need to continue steroid replacement or lack the energy to excercise often, which is sadly false. Trust me that we would love to have that much control over such a terrible disease. Fortunately, there is a good likelihood of remission from Cushing’s in the hands of a skilled pituitary surgeon. Unfortunately, the long-term remission rate is only 56%, meaning that 44% of people with Cushing’s will require a second (sometimes third) pituitary surgery, radiation or bilateraly adrenalectomy to resolve the hypercortisolism. Without successful treatment, Cushing’s leads to death. Even with successful treatment, I will have to be monitored for possible recurrence for the rest of my life. After surgery or other treatment, the recovery period can last months or even years. Because the tumor takes over control of the body’s production of cortisol, the adrenal glands, which had lain dormant prior to surgery, require time to start functioning properly again. Until this happens, we must take synthetic steroids or else risk adrenal insufficiency or adrenal crisis, which can be quickly life-threatening. Careful monitoring of our cortisol levels is critical during the weaning period. It is a rare but sad fact that some people’s adrenal glands never return to normal, and those people must continue to take hydrocortisone or prednisone — sometimes for life — simply in order for the body to perform correctly its basic systemic functions. The physical recovery from surgery can be quick, but the withdrawal from hydrocortisone can be a lengthy and extremely painful process. As I described above, Cushing’s causes a tearing-down of muscles and bone. While there is an over-abundance of cortisol in our bodies (as a result of the tumor), we often can’t feel the effects of the muscle-wasting and bone deterioration because of the anti-inflammatory action of cortisol. Upon weaning, however, these become painfully (literally!) evident. The physical pain experienced while weaning from cortisol has been described as worse than weaning from heroin. When cortisol levels are low, one experiences the symptoms akin to a really bad flu, including severe fatigue (”like a wet cement blanket laid on top of me”); weakness and exhaustion; nausea; headache; vomiting; mental confusion. It is imperative for people who are on replacement steroids after Cushing’s surgery to carry extra Cortef (or injectable Solu-Cortef) with them at all times in addition to wearing a medic alert bracelet so that medical professionals will be alerted to the possiblity of adrenal insufficiency in the event of an adrenal crisis. People who have struggled with Cushing’s Syndrome all hope to return to “normal” at some point. Though none of us want to have Cushing’s, it is often a relief finally to have a correct diagnosis and treatment plan. For many, there is a gradual resolution of many Cushing’s symptoms within a few years of surgery or other successful treatment, and a good quality of life can be achieved. But regrettably, this is not possible in every case. Depending on the severity of the disease and the length of time before diagnosis and treatment, the prognosis can be poor and lead to shortened life expectancy and diminished quality of life. This is not a choice or something we can control, but it is the reality for some people who have suffered the consequences of long-term hypercortisolism. The best support you can give someone who is suffering from Cushing’s or its aftermath is to BELIEVE them and to understand that they are not manufacturing their illness or prolonging recovery. Ask them what they are able (and not able) to do, and then be prepared to help them in ways that matter — whether that be to bring them a meal or help them to run errands, pick up prescriptions from the pharmacy or clean their house. Because it’s these little everyday tasks, which can fall by the wayside when someone has (or has had) Cushing’s, and these are the things we miss the most: doing for ourselves. Ask us questions about the disease, and then actively listen to what we say. We know you don’t know much about Cushing’s — even our doctors sometimes lack information about this rare disease. But know we appreciate the interest and will tell you everything you want to know, because those of us who have it necessarily become experts in it just in order to survive. Thank you for caring about me and for hearing what I am saying in this letter. I know you love me and are concerned about me, and I appreciate that so much. Thank you also for taking the time to read this letter. I look forward to discussing further any questions you might have. In the meantime, I am attaching a brief article written by a woman who recently was diagnosed with Cushing’s. I hope hearing another person’s experiences will help you to understand what I’m going through so that when we talk, we will be coming from a similar starting place. Endocrinologists (doctors who specialize in Cushing's Syndrome and its related issues) realize the medical aspect and know the damaging effects that Cushing's has on the body. Family and friends see their Cushie suffering and know they are hurting physically and often times mentally and emotionally. However, understanding the debilitation of Cushing's and how it can affect every aspect of a person's life can only be truly realized by those who have experienced the syndrome. Cushings Help Organization, Inc., a non-profit family of websites maintained by MaryO, a pituitary Cushing's survivor, provides this letter for patients to provide to their family and friends in hopes of providing a better understanding Cushing's and it's many aspects. We're sorry to hear that your family member or friend has Cushing's Syndrome or suspected Cushing's. A person may feel better at times then at other times. It's common for a Cushing's patient to have burst of energy and then all of a sudden they become lethargic and don't feel like moving a muscle. There are many symptoms that are associated with Cushing's. They include weight gain, fatigue, muscle weakness, shortness of breath, feeling achy all over, headaches, blurred vision, mood swings, high blood pressure, stretch marks (straie), buffalo hump, diabetes, edema and the list goes on. Hormones affect every area of the body. It is important to note that not all patients have every symptom. Even some hallmark symptoms, such as straie or the "buffalo hump", may not be noticable on every patient. Not everyone who has Cushing's will experience the same symptoms, treatment, or recovery. Because not all "Cushies" have these symptoms, it makes diagnosis even more difficult. Cushing's can cause the physical appearance change due to weight gain, hair loss, rosacea, acne, etc. This can be very disturbing when looking in the mirror. Changes in appearance can often cause the Cushing's patient to withdraw from family and friends making it a very lonely illness. Patients often feel alone or withdrawn because few others understand. Cushing's can affect affect anyone of any age although it is more commen in women. Cushing's patients need to be able to take one day at time and learn to listen to their bodies. There will most likely be times when naps are needed during the day and often times may not be able to sleep at night due to surges of cortisol. Your Cushie doesn't expect you to understand Cushing's Syndrome completely. They do need you to be there for them and try to understand to the best of your ability what they feel and not give up on them. Often a Cushing's patient may be moody and say things that they don't mean. If this should happen with your Cushie try not to take it personally and know that it's most likely caused by the elevated cortisol and disturbances in other hormone levels caused by the Cushing's and not from the heart or true feelings of your Cushie. It can be very depressing and frustrating having so many limitations and experience things in life being taken from you. Cushing's patients are sick, not lazy, not hypochondriacs or even the newer term "Cyberchondriacs". If a Cushing's patient says they don't feel like doing something or they express how bad they feel let them know that you believe them. One of the most frustrating things to someone who is sick is to have those you love not believe you or support you. Telling a Cushie to think positive thoughts will not make him/her well and will just be aggrivating. Testing procedures can be lengthy and this can become frustrating for the patient and family. Often, it takes a while for results to come back and this can be stressful. Don't look to far ahead just take one day at a time and deal with the situation that is at hand at the present time. After a diagnosis is made then it's time for treatment. Surgery is usually the best treatment option for Cushing's that is caused by tumors. Don't be surprised if the surgeon's facility wants to run even more tests or redo some of those that have already been done. Your Cushie may have to travel a ways to find a surgeon who is trained in these delicate surgeries and who has performed many of them. Once the diagnosis has been made and treatment has finished then it's time for the recovery process. Not all patients who have surgery are cured and they have to make a choice along with the advice of their doctor as to what their next treatment option will be. The recovery from the surgery itself is similar to any other surgery and will take a while to recover. The recovery process obtained from getting a cure from Cushing's is quiet different from other surgeries. A Cushing's patients body has been exposed to excess cortisol, usually for quite a long time, and has become accustomed it. When the tumor is removed that has been responsible for the excessive cortisol and the body is no longer getting it this causes the body to have withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal can be very hard causing an array of symptoms muscle aches, weakness, bone and joint pain, emotional disturbances etc. Thank you for reading this and we hope it will help you to understand a little more about Cushing's and the dibilating affect it can have on a person. Thank you for being there and supporting your Cushie during this time in their life. We realize that when a family member has Cushing's it not only affects the individual but other family members and those around them as well. Showing your love and support will encourage a speedy recovery for your Cushie. **Note: Kate died on on June 23, 2014. Read her In Memory page here: http://cushingsbios.com/2014/06/25/in-memory-kate-meyers/
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  7. Abstract Background The most common etiologies of Cushing's syndrome (CS) are adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-producing pituitary adenoma (pitCS) and primary adrenal gland disease (adrCS), both of which burden patients with metabolic disturbance. The aim of this study was to compare the metabolic features of pitCS and adrCS patients. Methods A retrospective review including 114 patients (64 adrCS and 50 pitCS) diagnosed with CS in 2009–2019 was performed. Metabolic factors were then compared between pitCS and adrCS groups. Results Regarding sex, females suffered both adrCs (92.2%) and pitCS (88.0%) more frequently than males. Regarding age, patients with pitCS were diagnosed at a younger age (35.40 ± 11.94 vs. 39.65 ± 11.37 years, P = 0.056) than those with adrCS, although the difference was not statistically significant. Moreover, pitCS patients had much higher ACTH levels and more serious occurrences of hypercortisolemia at all time points (8 AM, 4 PM, 12 AM) than that in adrCS patients. Conversely, indexes, including body weight, BMI, blood pressure, serum total cholesterol, LDL-C, HDL-C, triglycerides, fasting plasma glucose, and uric acid, showed no differences between adrCS and pitCS patients. Furthermore, diabetes prevalence was higher in pitCS patients than in adrCS patients; however, there were no significant differences in hypertension or dyslipidemia prevalence between the two. Conclusions Although adrCS and pitCS had different pathogenetic mechanisms, different severities of hypercortisolemia, and different diabetes prevalences, both etiologies had similar metabolic characteristics. Keywords Cushing's syndrome Pituitary Cushing's Adrenal Cushing's Metabolic disturbance From https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095882X21000669
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  8. I really don't understand why they aren't removing the adrenal gland, then - is she doing testing with an endocrinologist, Bizzyusual? She would need to be diagnosed with Cushing's before they do anything with the adrenal tumor and that means testing, sometimes lots of it. I hope she sees that and gets started with endo appointments. Thanks for being good parents-in-law!
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  9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.radcr.2021.07.093 Abstract The chronic excess of glucocorticoids results in Cushing's syndrome. Cushing's syndrome presents with a variety of signs and symptoms including: central obesity, proximal muscle weakness, fatigue striae, poor wound healing, amenorrhea, and others. ACTH independent Cushing's syndrome is usually due to unilateral adenoma. A rare cause of it is bilateral adrenal adenomas. In this paper we report a case of a 43-year-old woman with Cushing's syndrome due to bilateral adrenal adenoma. Read the case report at https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1930043321005690
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