Multiple hormone secretion may indicate worse prognosis in patients with ectopic Cushing's syndrome

Ieva Lase, Ieva Strele, Malin Grönberg, Gordana Kozlovacki, Staffan Welin, Eva Tiensuu Janson
Hormones: International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism 2020 January 16

PURPOSE: Ectopic Cushing's syndrome (ECS) caused by an ACTH secreting neuroendocrine neoplasm (NEN) is a rare and challenging condition. We aimed to detect predictive and prognostic parameters for ECS patients identified from a retrospective, comprehensive cohort of NENs treated at a tertiary referral center.

METHODS: Medical records of 886 patients with NENs were reviewed. We identified 51 patients with ECS (33 females/18 men); mean age 52 ± 15 years (SD). Clinical parameters including symptoms, biochemical markers, and survival were extracted and further analyzed.

RESULTS: The primary tumor was located in the thorax (n = 28) or pancreas (n = 15) or was of unknown primary origin (n = 8). In 30 patients, tumor and ECS were diagnosed simultaneously. In 12 patients, the NEN diagnosis preceded ECS development, with a median time of 43.5 months (range: 9-96), and 10 of these showed radiological tumor progression at ECS diagnosis. Twenty-one patients had multiple hormone secretion, which correlated with shorter overall survival (OS), p = 0.012 (HR 2.4 (95% CI 1.2-4.9)), as did high morning cortisol, p = 0.037 (HR 2.3 (1.0-5.2)), higher tumor grade, p = 0.044 (HR 2.3 (1.0-5.1)), and diabetes, p = 0.050 (HR 2.4 (1.0-6.0)).

CONCLUSIONS: Multiple hormone secretion, high morning cortisol, higher tumor grade, and diabetes were correlated with shorter OS. Development of ECS in patients with a non-functioning NEN may indicate tumor progression. Multiple hormone secretion should be considered as a bad prognostic sign in ECS patients and should lead to intensified clinical management.

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