How are Cushing's disease and syndrome treated?
If a coritcosteroid medicine is causing Cushing's syndrome, your doctor will gradually lower your dose over time. Abruptly stopping a corticosteroid can cause a dangerous drop in your cortisol levels, so you should never stop taking these medicines without your doctor's approval. Your doctor may also prescribe a noncorticosteroid medicine to replace the corticosteroid that was causing Cushing's syndrome.
If a tumor is causing Cushing's syndrome, your doctor will surgically remove it from your pituitary gland. This type of surgery is usually successful. Radiation treatments are sometimes used after surgery to lower the risk that the tumor will come back. You'll need to take a cortisol replacement medicine after the tumor is removed because it will take your body some time before it starts producing normal amounts of cortisol. Most people only need to take the cortisol replacement medicine for a few months, but it could take up to year. In rare cases, people who have had surgery to remove a tumor that was causing Cushing's syndrome never regain normal cortisol levels and must therefore continue to take the cortisol replacement medicine.
Cushing's Disease: Clinical Manifestations and Diagnostic Evaluation by LF Kirk, Jr., M.D., RB Hash, M.D., HP Katner, M.D., and T Jones, M.D. (American Family Physician September 01, 2000, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20000901/1119.html)
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff