Cushing’s is a rare condition that occurs when a person develops a tumor the drives the body (or adrenal glands) to make excessive amounts of the hormone cortisol.
Cortisol is a hormone normally made by the adrenal glands and it is necessary for life. Almost every cell contains receptors for cortisol and so cortisol can have lots of different actions depending on which sort of cells it is acting upon. These effects include controlling the body’s blood sugar levels and thus regulating metabolism, acting as an anti-inflammatory, influencing memory formation, controlling salt and water balance, influencing blood pressure and much more. It allow people to respond to stressful situations such as illness, and has effects on almost all body tissues.
- When the ACTH comes from the pituitary gland, it is called Cushing’s Disease. Most patients with Cushing’s have tumors in their pituitary glands, a tiny endocrine organ located deep within the brain structures.
- Currently in the US, many patients with tumors that cannot be removed are left without effective medical treatment.
- It is estimated that between four to ten people per million are diagnosed with Cushing’s Disease.