Cushing disease is caused by small benign tumors in the pituitary gland that increase levels of the hormone cortisol. The disease and growths can go undetected. Doctors say the disease can be mistaken for depression or obesity in its early stages.
Symptoms Include: Weight gain, fatty deposit between the shoulders (buffalo hump), pink or purple stretch marks, Thinning fragile skin that bruises easily, acne. Women may experience irregular menstrual periods, thicker or more visible body and facial hair. For more information click on the links with this story.
A team of MSU doctors has helped a Leslie teen overcome a rare disease of the pituitary gland.
19-year-old Sydney Kandell was diagnosed with Cushing disease about a year ago. Doctors say the disease is often mistaken for obesity.
Kandell gained 100 pounds during her senior year in high school. She struggled with headaches, high blood pressure, acne, and dark stretchmarks. Her face also appeared very round. Kandell knew something was very wrong. "I was very depressed. It was very upsetting because I went to the doctor multiple times about my weight gain, and acne, and they all said the same thing, 'Write a food journal, exercise more, it will solve all your problems.'"
But a visit to the Emergency Room for an intense headache, lead Kandell to a MSU Resident Physician who recognized Kandell's symptoms. Dr. Tiffany Burns said, "I was very sure that she had Cushing disease. We ruled out the more common things. Cushing disease is very uncommon. We ruled out the uncommon things first, but once we got to testing her urine for the steroid level, that's when I knew I had to call Dr. Aldasouqi."
Dr. Saleh Aldasouqi, a senior endocrinologist at MSU confirmed Burn's diagnoses. "I rushed to MRI because I had a strong belief and a gut feeling that she has a pituitary tumor and perhaps a big pituitary tumor. Usually these tumors that cause Cushing disease are small in the pituitary and they are very difficult to detect. Her tumor was big."
A neurologist removed the tumor a few weeks later. Kandell now controls the disease with cortisol. She's lost 60 pounds and is thankful someone listened. "I can't even explain how that felt in words how that felt to have an answer."
Kandell has a tattoo on her wrist as a reminder of her journey with Cushing disease. She is very passionate about spreading the word about the disease often mistaken for obesity. She plans to go to medical school to study endocrinology.