Cushing's Syndrome


Cushing's syndrome is a rare problem that happens when you have too much of the hormone cortisol in your body. Cortisol is especially important in controlling blood pressure and metabolism. But it affects almost every area of your body.

Normally, your body keeps the level of cortisol in balance through a complex system that involves three glands: hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands.

When your cortisol level gets low, a part of the brain called the hypothalamus releases a hormone called CRH. CRH tells the pituitary gland, located beneath the brain, to make a hormone called ACTH. ACTH triggers the adrenal glands, which sit above the kidneys, to release cortisol. If something upsets this system, your cortisol level can get too high. If it's high for too long, it can cause symptoms and can lead to serious problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, and osteoporosis.

Cushing syndrome refers to a situation where there is too much cortisol. This can be caused by a tumor producing too much ACTH, to stimulate the adrenal production of cortisol. If the ACH tumor is in the pituitary gland, this is referred to as Cushing disease. This is the most common cause of Cushing syndrome. Cushing syndrome can also be caused by a tumor of the adrenal gland producing too much cortisol.

Our neuroendocrinology experts at the Stanford Pituitary Center have the highest expertise in diagnosing and treating Cushing's syndrome, and our pituitary-expert neurosurgeons are highly specialized in the endoscopic endonasal approach for Cushing’s disease, and have developed innovative techniques aiming to improve surgical results.

Endoscopic Endonasal Approach for Pituitary Tumor Removal

The Stanford Pituitary Center

The Preeminent Center for Pituitary Disorders

Approach to the Patient Undergoing Pituitary Surgery

Innovations in Pituitary Surgery:
Step-wise anatomically-based resection of the medial wall of the cavernous sinus

Stanford Pituitary Center
Patient Education Day

Endoscopic Endonasal Approach for Invasive ACTH-secreting adenoma causing severe Cushing’s disease: Towards Surgical Cure

A metastatic tumor is cancer that did not begin in the brain, but instead developed in some other part of the body and progressed to the brain or spinal cord.

Treatment for metastatic tumors aims to slow progression of the cancer and manage symptoms that harm your quality of life.

Our doctors use 3 main categories of treatment for metastatic tumors: surgery, radiation therapy, and drug therapy. We often recommend a combination of these treatments, based on the specific details discovered during diagnosis. You and your doctor work together to identify the best option for you, based on factors such as:

  • Size of the tumor
  • Location
  • Aggressiveness of the cancer


When making recommendations, your Stanford doctors can choose from a range of specialized diagnostic and treatment approaches, including for tissue sampling (biopsy) and surgery.

Improvements in imaging technology, for example, have provided surgeons with valuable tools to locate, identify, and learn more about brain tumors. These image-guided approaches allow them to “map” the brain and separate tumors from healthy tissue. They can also perform safer, less-invasive procedures. Your team will work with you to identify the best option for you.