Cushing’s Disease





Cushing’s disease (not to be confused with Cushing’s syndrome) is an endocrine (hormonal) condition that is differentiated by an increase in the level of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) secreted by the anterior pituitary gland. The ACTH, which is normally produced by a healthy pituitary gland, encourages the adrenal glands located on top of each kidney to produce the stress hormone cortisol.

This disease is the most common type of endogenous Cushing’s syndrome, accounting for approximately 70% of documented cases. Cushing’s disease, however, is rare, concerning about 10 to 15 individuals per million annually. It usually manifests in adults who are roughly 20 to 40 years old. It also seems that this condition affects more women than men; females account for more than 70% of Cushing’s disease cases.



This disease is most likely caused by a tumor growing on the pituitary gland. But it can also be possibly instigated by an excessive growth (not necessarily a tumor) of pituitary tissue. A non-cancerous tumor, commonly referred to as adenoma, is usually the most common cause for Cushing’s disease.

The pituitary tumor or the hyperplastic pituitary gland releases an excessive amount of ACTH, which stimulates the adrenal glands to release also too much cortisol. Cortisol is customarily excreted in response to stressful conditions. The increased amount of cortisol in the body piles up over time causing the various signs and symptoms of this disease.


Signs and Symptoms

The high level of cortisol in a person with Cushing’s disease plays an important role in the manifestation of signs and symptoms in the body. The symptoms of this condition may include:

  • A noticeable change in the physical characteristics of the body such as:
    • The face becomes full and round (moon-face);
    • There is a cushion of fat at the back of the neck and between the shoulder blades (buffalo hump);
    • Poor wound healing ability and easy bruising;
    • Purple stretch marks on the abdominal area;
    • Weight gain that is prominent on the trunk, but the extremities remain thin;
    • Flushing (redness) of the face or cheeks, referred to as facial plethora; and
    • Excessive growth of hair on the face or body (hirsutism), especially in women.
  • Menstrual abnormalities;
  • A decreased interest in sexual activity or decreased fertility;
  • Generalized body weakness and/or fatigue;
  • Hypertension that is hard to manage;
  • Diabetes;
  • Mood swings and onset of serious behavioral/psychiatric disorders.



Cushing’s disease is often managed by specialists. The considered long-term cure for this condition is the surgical removal of the benign pituitary adenoma. If surgery fails to remove the tumor completely, the patient is subjected to medical therapy that will hinder the excessive production of cortisol. Radiation therapy is also an option in controlling the growth of the tumor.


Disability Tax Credits for Cushing’s Disease

Having Cushing’s disease can take a toll on how you go about in your everyday activities. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with this condition, it might be time for you to consider giving HandyTax a call. With your diagnosis, you could be qualified to file for a disability tax refund from the Canadian Revenue Agency, with the help of a disability certificate signed by your physician. In order to know your options, it would be best if you set up an appointment with one of our representatives, so we can aidyou in filing for your claims.