Endocrine Journal
Online ISSN : 1348-4540
Print ISSN : 0918-8959
ISSN-L : 0918-8959
Long-term study of subclinical Cushing’s syndrome shows high prevalence of extra-adrenal malignancy in patients with functioning bilateral adrenal tumors
Hisaya KawateMichiko KohnoYayoi MatsudaYuko AkehiMakito TanabeToshihiro HoriuchiKeizo OhnakaMasatoshi NomuraToshihiko YanaseRyoichi Takayanagi
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2014 Volume 61 Issue 12 Pages 1205-1212


Subclinical Cushing’s syndrome (SCS) is characterized by subtle autonomous cortisol secretion from adrenal tumors without specific signs and symptoms of hypercortisolism. Patients with SCS have a high prevalence of “lifestyle-related diseases,” such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, and osteoporosis. Long-term follow-up of SCS patients is reportedly indispensable for establishing indications for surgical treatment of SCS. We performed a follow-up survey of 27 patients with SCS (median: 5.3 years) and compared those who had undergone surgical treatment (n=15) with those who had not (n=12). The mean diameter of tumors was 31 mm; 16 (59%) patients had unilateral lesions and 11 (41%) carried bilateral ones. In 67% and 60% of the treatment group, respectively, hypertension and diabetes mellitus improved. We also noticed that eight of 11 (73%) SCS patients with bilateral adrenal tumors had extra-adrenal malignancies in various tissues. Interestingly, among nine SCS patients who had malignancies, eight showed bilateral adrenal uptake in 131I-aldosterol scintigraphy. The results imply that surgical treatment can reduce cardiovascular risks in SCS patients. Screening for malignancy may be necessary in patients with bilateral adrenal tumors suspected of autonomous hypersecretion of cortisol from both sides.

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