Symptoms of Cushing's Disease

The classic symptoms of Cushing’s disease are a rounded face (often called a “moon face”) and fatty deposits that cause upper body obesity or a hump between the shoulders. Other symptoms and consequences may include:

  • Weight gain, especially in the upper body
  • Disruptions in the menstrual cycle
  • Excess body hair, acne
  • Thinning skin, frequent bruising
  • Headache or backache
  • Fatigue and muscle weakness
  • Mood changes
  • High blood pressure
  • Weakened bones that can lead to easy fractures
  • Frequent infections
  • Blood clots
  • Depression/irritability/psychosis
  • Elevated sugars
  • Elevated blood pressure

 
Many of these symptoms are highly suggestive of a hormonal disorder, but patients don’t always report all their symptoms — for example, a woman may talk to her gynecologist about menstrual changes without mentioning her headaches or bruising. When taken together, however, these symptoms point strongly in the direction of a hormone problem and the individual should be referred for blood tests to look at hormone levels. (See Diagnosing and Treating Cushing’s Disease.)

Patients diagnosed with a pituitary tumor should be referred to a major medical center with an expert team of pituitary specialists. At the Weill Cornell Brain and Spine Center, patients will be evaluated by a multi-disciplinary team that includes neurosurgeons, otolaryngologists, endocrinologists, and neuroradiologists. If surgery is recommended, it will be performed by a neurosurgeon with advanced skills in minimally invasive procedures to remove pituitary tumors. (See Surgery for a Pituitary Tumor.)

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Our Care Team

  • Vice Chair for Clinical Research
  • David and Ursel Barnes Professor in Minimally Invasive Surgery
  • Professor of Neurosurgery, Neurology, and Otolaryngology
  • Director, Center for Epilepsy and Pituitary Surgery
  • Co-Director, Surgical Neuro-oncology
Phone: 212-746-5620
  • Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery
  • Leon Levy Research Fellow
  • Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute
Phone: 646-962-3389
  • Assistant Professor of Neuroendocrinology in Neurological Surgery, Weill Cornell Medicine
Phone: 646-962-3556
  • Director, Neurosurgical Radiosurgery
  • Associate Professor of Clinical Neurological Surgery
  • Robert G. Schwager, MD ’67 Education Scholar, Cornell University
Phone: 212-746-2438
  • Chief of Neurological Surgery, NewYork-Presbyterian Queens
Phone: (718) 670-1837
  • Chief of Neurological Surgery, NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist
  • Alvina and Willis Murphy Associate Professor, Neurological Surgery
  • Director, Brain Metastases Program
  • Co-director, William Rhodes and Louise Tilzer-Rhodes Center for Glioblastoma
Phone: 212-746-1996

Reviewed by: Georgiana Dobri, M.D.
Last reviewed/last updated: December 2020

Weill Cornell Medicine Brain & Spine Center 525 East 68 Street, Box 99 New York, NY 10065 Phone: 866-426-7787