Cushing’s Disease

Cushing’s disease is a condition that occurs when a noncancerous tumor on the pituitary gland causes the body to release too much adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH then stimulates the adrenal glands, which causes the body to produce excess cortisol – the “stress hormone.” Heightened ACTH and excess cortisol levels can lead to Cushing’s disease symptoms like high blood pressure, osteoporosis and weight gain.


Cushing’s Disease Vs. Cushing’s Syndrome

Cushing’s disease and Cushing’s syndrome are often confused with one another, but they’re two different conditions.

Cushing's syndrome, or hypercortisolism, refers to a group of conditions that cause the body to produce too much cortisol. This often occurs because of the use of corticosteroid medication. When an overproduction of cortisol is caused by medication, the resulting condition is known as exogenous Cushing’s syndrome.

Conversely, endogenous Cushing’s syndrome is caused by the body’s overproduction of cortisol, and is not related to taking medication.

Non-medication-related Cushing’s syndrome can be caused by:

  • A pituitary tumor, which causes the pituitary gland to overproduce ACTH, the hormone responsible for cortisol production. This condition is called Cushing’s Disease.
  • An adrenal tumor
  • An ectopic tumor


Cushing’s disease symptoms, which are caused by raised ACTH and excess cortisol levels, may include:

  • Decreased fertility and libido
  • High blood pressure
  • Moon-shaped face
  • Osteoporosis
  • Personality changes or mood swings
  • Weight gain, especially in the upper body and trunk
  • Excessive hair growth and menstrual disorders in women


Your doctors will talk with you about your symptoms and test your cortisol levels – the most accurate Cushing’s disease test available.

If you are diagnosed with Cushing’s disease, our expert neurosurgeons and neurologists will work with you to find the best treatment option for you.

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Treatment Options

Dr. Amin Kassam, Vice President of Neurosciences at Aurora Health Care, explains the Expanded Endonasal Approach, a minimally invasive surgery technique for those with Cushing’s Disease and other neurological conditions.

One option for Cushing’s disease treatment may be the Expanded Endonasal Approach (EEA), a minimally invasive procedure in which the tumor is removed through the nasal passages, resulting in no incisions, a shorter hospital stay and faster recovery.


Our neurologists and neurosurgeons offer Cushing’s disease treatment in:

  • Fond du Lac
  • Grafton
  • Green Bay
  • Hartford
  • Kenosha
  • Menomonee Falls
  • Meqon
  • Milwaukee
  • Oshkosh
  • Sheboygan
  • St. Francis
  • Summit

– and throughout eastern Wisconsin. Find a Cushing’s disease specialist near you.

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