Symptoms of Cushing's syndrome
The most evocative symptoms of this rare disease can be physical (obesity of the upper body, puffy face, bone fragility, stretch marks, haematomas, redness, high blood pressure...) or psychological (insomnia, irritability, concentration disorders, depression...).
Cushing's syndrome, characterised by cortisol hypersecretion, can be caused by medical treatment (iatrogenic Cushing's syndrome) or by natural health disorders (endogenous Cushing's syndrome). In the first case, the patient is subjected to excessively heavy corticosteroid drug therapy, which may lead to disease. In the second case, the patient may have a tumour (adenoma) that causes excessive cortisol secretion.
The pathology and its diagnosis
The diagnosis of Cushing's syndrome is particularly difficult to make. Indeed, the appearance of symptoms, being particularly common, does not make it possible to detect the disease immediately. It is therefore necessary to proceed in two steps.
First, doctors perform a series of tests to confirm excess cortisol secretion. Then, if the first test is positive, they will have to investigate the cause of this hypersecretion of cortisol using scans, MRIs or blood tests. It is also essential that the patient be subjected to a battery of tests to determine the consequences that Cushing's syndrome can have on their body (diabetes, kidney dysfunction, heart problems...). Moreover, there is currently no way to detect the disease before it occurs.
Cushing's syndrome treatments
The aim of Cushing's syndrome treatments is to eliminate the cause of excess cortisol in the patient's body. There are two possibilities: surgical treatment or drug treatment. The type of intervention will depend on the cause of Cushing's syndrome. Ideally, the tumour should be removed. However, the adenoma may be impossible to extract (too small, too large...) or may reappear later (recurrence). Some types of cancer are also aggressive and therefore require intervention at an early stage of the disease. When the surgical alternative is impossible or unsuccessful, there are drug treatments that can reduce or block the secretion (or effects) of cortisol.
Published 4 Nov 2018