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Mawson Wang Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Blacktown Hospital, Sydney, Australia
Blacktown Clinical School, School of Medicine, Western Sydney University, Sydney, Australia

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Benjamin Jonker Department of Neurosurgery, St. Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, Australia

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Louise Killen Department of Pathology, St. Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, Australia

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Yvonne Bogum NSW Health Pathology East, Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, Australia

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Ann McCormack Department of Endocrinology, St. Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney, Australia
Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Sydney, Australia
St. Vincent’s Clinical School, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, Australia

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Ramy H Bishay Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Blacktown Hospital, Sydney, Australia
Blacktown Clinical School, School of Medicine, Western Sydney University, Sydney, Australia

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Summary

Cushing’s disease is a rare disorder characterised by excessive cortisol production as a consequence of a corticotroph pituitary tumour. While the primary treatment is surgical resection, post-operative radiation therapy may be used in cases of ongoing inadequate hormonal control or residual or progressive structural disease. Despite improved outcomes, radiotherapy for pituitary tumours is associated with hypopituitarism, visual deficits and, rarely, secondary malignancies. We describe an unusual case of a 67-year-old female with presumed Cushing’s disease diagnosed at the age of 37, treated with transsphenoidal resection of a pituitary tumour with post-operative external beam radiotherapy (EBRT), ketoconazole for steroidogenesis inhibition, and finally bilateral adrenalectomy for refractory disease. She presented 30 years after her treatment with a witnessed generalised tonic-clonic seizure. Radiological investigations confirmed an extracranial mass infiltrating through the temporal bone and into brain parenchyma. Due to recurrent generalised seizures, the patient was intubated and commenced on dexamethasone and anti-epileptic therapy. Resection of the tumour revealed a high-grade osteoblastic osteosarcoma. Unfortunately, the patient deteriorated in intensive care and suffered a fatal cardiac arrest following a likely aspiration event. We describe the risk factors, prevalence and treatment of radiation-induced osteosarcoma, an exceedingly rare and late complication of pituitary irradiation. To our knowledge, this is the longest reported latency period between pituitary irradiation and the development of an osteosarcoma of the skull.

Learning points:

  • Cushing’s disease is treated with transsphenoidal resection as first-line therapy, with radiotherapy used in cases of incomplete resection, disease recurrence or persistent hypercortisolism.

  • The most common long-term adverse outcome of pituitary tumour irradiation is hypopituitarism occurring in 30–60% of patients at 10 years, and less commonly, vision loss and oculomotor nerve palsies, radiation-induced brain tumours and sarcomas.

  • Currently proposed characteristics of radiation-induced osteosarcomas include: the finding of a different histological type to the primary tumour, has developed within or adjacent to the path of the radiation beam, and a latency period of at least 3 years.

  • Treatment of osteosarcoma of the skull include complete surgical excision, followed by systemic chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy.

  • Overall prognosis in radiation-induced sarcoma of bone is poor.

  • Newer techniques such as stereotactic radiosurgery may reduce the incidence of radiation-induced malignancies.

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Mariana Barbosa Department of Endocrinology, Hospital de Braga, Braga, Portugal

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Sílvia Paredes Department of Endocrinology, Hospital de Braga, Braga, Portugal

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Maria João Machado Department of Neurosurgery, Hospital de Braga, Braga, Portugal

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Rui Almeida Department of Neurosurgery, Hospital de Braga, Braga, Portugal
Pituitary Consult, Hospital de Braga, Braga, Portugal

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Olinda Marques Department of Endocrinology, Hospital de Braga, Braga, Portugal
Pituitary Consult, Hospital de Braga, Braga, Portugal

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Summary

Gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists, currently used in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer, have been described as a rare cause of pituitary apoplexy, a potentially life-threatening clinical condition. We report the case of a 69-year-old man with a known pituitary macroadenoma who was diagnosed with prostate cancer and started treatment with GnRH agonist leuprorelin (other hormones were not tested before treatment). Few minutes after drug administration, the patient presented with acute-onset severe headache, followed by left eye ptosis, diplopia and vomiting. Pituitary MRI revealed tumor enlargement and T1-hyperintense signal, compatible with recent bleeding sellar content. Laboratory endocrine workup was significant for low total testosterone. The patient was managed conservatively with high-dose steroids, and symptoms significantly improved. This case describes a rare phenomenon, pituitary apoplexy induced by GnRH agonist. We review the literature regarding this condition: the pathophysiological mechanism involved is not clearly established and several hypotheses have been proposed. Although uncommon, healthcare professionals and patients should be aware of this complication and recognize the signs, preventing a delay in diagnosis and treatment.

Learning points:

  • Pituitary apoplexy (PA) is a potentially life-threatening complication that can be caused by gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist (GnRHa) administration for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer.

  • This complication is rare but should be taken into account when using GnRHa, particularly in the setting of a known pre-existing pituitary adenoma.

  • PA presents with classic clinical signs and symptoms that should be promptly recognized.

  • Patients should be instructed to seek medical care if suspicious symptoms occur.

  • Healthcare professionals should be aware of this complication, enabling its early recognition, adequate treatment and favorable outcome.

Open access
Florence Gunawan Barwon Health, Geelong University Hospital, Geelong, Victoria, Australia

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Elizabeth George Barwon Health, Geelong University Hospital, Geelong, Victoria, Australia

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Mark Kotowicz Barwon Health, Geelong University Hospital, Geelong, Victoria, Australia

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Summary

Denosumab is a fully human MAB that acts as a potent anti-resorptive by inhibiting activation of osteoclasts by inhibiting the receptor activator of nuclear factor-kappa B (RANK) ligand. Hypocalcaemia has been reported as one of the serious adverse sequelae of use of denosumab. We present a case of refractory hypocalcaemia following administration of a single dose of denosumab in a patient with metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer. The patient’s serum calcium and vitamin D concentrations and renal function were normal prior to denosumab administration. Serum alkaline phosphatase (ALP) level was however elevated pre-morbidly consistent with known bone metastases. The patient was treated with high-dose oral and IV calcium without any appreciable response in serum calcium. During his 30-day hospital admission, he demonstrated disease progression with development of new liver metastases and bone marrow involvement. Normocalcaemia was not achieved despite 1 month of aggressive therapy. Given the patient was asymptomatic and prognosis guarded, he was eventually discharged for ongoing supportive care under the palliative care team.

Learning points:

  • Denosumab is a potent anti-resorptive therapy and hypocalcaemia is one of the known adverse effects.

  • Serum calcium and vitamin D concentrations must be replete prior to administration of denosumab to reduce the risk of hypocalcaemia.

  • Denosumab has been proven to be more effective than zoledronic acid in preventing skeletal-related adverse effects in patients with metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer.

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Nirusha Arnold Westmead Private Hospital, Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Victor O’Toole Westmead Private Hospital, Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Tien Huynh Westmead Private Hospital, Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Howard C Smith Westmead Teaching Hospital, Royal North Shore Teaching Hospital, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Catherine Luxford Kolling Institute of Medical Research, Royal North Shore Teaching Hospital, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Roderick Clifton-Bligh Kolling Institute of Medical Research, Royal North Shore Teaching Hospital, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Creswell J Eastman Westmead Private Hospital, Westmead, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Westmead Teaching Hospital, Royal North Shore Teaching Hospital, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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Summary

Parathyroid-independent hypercalcaemia of pregnancy, due to biallelic loss of function of the P450 enzyme CYP24A1, the principal inactivator of 1,25(OH)2D results in hypervitaminosis D, hypercalcaemia and hypercalciuria. We report two cases of this disorder, with intractable hypercalcaemia, one occurring during gestation and into the postpartum, and the other in the postpartum period. Case 1, a 47-year-old woman with a twin pregnancy conceived by embryo transfer, presented with hypercalcaemia at 23 weeks gestation with subnormal serum parathyroid hormone (PTH) and normal serum 25-OH D levels. She was admitted to hospital at 31 weeks gestation with pregnancy-induced hypertension, gestational diabetes and increasing hypercalcaemia. Caesarean section at 34 weeks gestation delivered two healthy females weighing 2.13 kg and 2.51 kg. At delivery, the patient’s serum calcium level was 2.90 mmol/L. Postpartum severe hypercalcaemia was treated successfully with Denosumab 60 mg SCI, given on two occasions. CYP24A1 testing revealed she was compound heterozygous for pathogenic variants c.427_429delGAA, (p.Glu143del) and c.1186C>T, (p.Arg396Trp). Case 2, a 36-year-old woman presented 4 days after the delivery of healthy twins with dyspnoea, bradycardia, severe headaches, hypertension and generalized tonic-clonic seizures after an uneventful pregnancy. She was hypercalcaemic with a suppressed PTH, normal 25(OH)D, and elevated 1,25(OH)2D levels. Her symptoms partially responded to i.v. saline and corticosteroids in the short term but bisphosphonates such as Pamidronate and Zoledronic acid did not result in sustained improvement. Denosumab 120 mg SCI successfully treated the hypercalcaemia which resolved completely 2 months post-partum. CYP24A1 testing revealed she was homozygous for the pathogenic variant c.427_429delGAA, (p.Glu143del).

Learning points:

  • Hypercalcaemia in pregnancy can be associated with considerable morbidity with few options available for management.

  • In non-PTH-related hypercalcaemia the diagnosis of CYP24A1 deficiency should be considered.

  • Making a definitive diagnosis of CYP24A1 deficiency by genetic testing delays the diagnosis, while the availability of serum 24,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (24,25(OH)2D) will expedite a diagnosis.

  • In pregnant women with CYP24A1 deficiency hypercalcaemia can worsen in the post-partum period and is more likely to occur with twin pregnancies but generally resolves within 2–3 months.

  • Therapeutic alternatives are limited in pregnancy and their effectiveness is short-lived and mostly ineffective. Denosumab used in both our patients after delivery was the most effective agent normalizing calcium and may have benefit as a long-term therapeutic agent in preventing complications in patients with CYP24A1 deficiency.

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Katta Sai Department of Internal Medicine, Saint Vincent Hospital at Worcester Medical Center, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA

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Amos Lal Department of Internal Medicine, Saint Vincent Hospital at Worcester Medical Center, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA

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Jhansi Lakshmi Maradana Department of Internal Medicine, Saint Vincent Hospital at Worcester Medical Center, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA

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Pruthvi Raj Velamala Department of Internal Medicine, Saint Vincent Hospital at Worcester Medical Center, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA

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Trivedi Nitin Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Metabolism, Saint Vincent Hospital at Worcester Medical Center, Worcester, Massachusetts, USA

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Summary

Mifepristone is a promising option for the management of hypercortisolism associated with hyperglycemia. However, its use may result in serious electrolyte imbalances, especially during dose escalation. In our patient with adrenocorticotropic hormone-independent macro-nodular adrenal hyperplasia, unilateral adrenalectomy resulted in biochemical and clinical improvement, but subclinical hypercortisolism persisted following adrenalectomy. She was started on mifepristone. Unfortunately, she missed her follow-up appointments following dosage escalation and required hospitalization at an intensive care level for severe refractory hypokalemia.

Learning points:

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Sharmin Jahan Department of Endocrinology, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), Dhaka, Bangladesh

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M A Hasanat Department of Endocrinology, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), Dhaka, Bangladesh

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Tahseen Mahmood Department of Endocrinology, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), Dhaka, Bangladesh

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Shahed Morshed Department of Endocrinology, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), Dhaka, Bangladesh

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Raziul Haq Department of Neurosurgery, Dhaka Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), Dhaka, Bangladesh

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Md Fariduddin Department of Endocrinology, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), Dhaka, Bangladesh

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Summary

Silent corticotroph adenoma (SCA) is an unusual type of nonfunctioning pituitary adenoma (NFA) that is silent both clinically and biochemically and can only be recognized by positive immunostaining for ACTH. Under rare circumstances, it can transform into hormonally active disease presenting with severe Cushing syndrome. It might often produce diagnostic dilemma with difficult management issue if not thoroughly investigated and subtyped accordingly following surgery. Here, we present a 21-year-old male who initially underwent pituitary adenomectomy for presumed NFA with compressive symptoms. However, he developed recurrent and invasive macroadenoma with severe clinical as well as biochemical hypercortisolism during post-surgical follow-up. Repeat pituitary surgery was carried out urgently as there was significant optic chiasmal compression. Immunohistochemical analysis of the tumor tissue obtained on repeat surgery proved it to be an aggressive corticotroph adenoma. Though not cured, he showed marked clinical and biochemical improvement in the immediate postoperative period. Anticipating recurrence from the residual tumor, we referred him for cyber knife radio surgery.

Learning points:

  • Pituitary NFA commonly present with compressive symptoms such as headache and blurred vision.

  • Post-surgical development of Cushing syndrome in such a case could be either drug induced or endogenous.

  • In the presence of recurrent pituitary tumor, ACTH-dependent Cushing syndrome indicates CD.

  • Rarely a SCA presenting initially as NFA can transform into an active corticotroph adenoma.

  • Immunohistochemical marker for ACTH in the resected tumor confirms the diagnosis.

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Punith Kempegowda Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK
Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK

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Lauren Quinn Department of Endocrinology, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Leicester, UK

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Lisa Shepherd Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK
Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK

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Samina Kauser Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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Briony Johnson Department of Pathology, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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Alex Lawson Department of Pathology, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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Andrew Bates Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, Birmingham, UK

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Summary

A 62-year-old Asian British female presented with increasing tiredness. She had multiple co-morbidities and was prescribed steroid inhalers for asthma. She had also received short courses of oral prednisolone for acute asthma exacerbations in the last 2 years. Unfortunately, the frequency and dose of steroids for asthma was unclear from history. Her type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) control had deteriorated over a short period of time (HbA1c: 48–85 mmol/mol). Blood tests revealed undetectable cortisol and ACTH (<28 mmol/L, <5.0 ng/L). Renin, electrolytes and thyroid function were within normal limits. A diagnosis of secondary adrenal insufficiency, likely due to long-term steroid inhaler and recurrent short courses of oral steroids for asthma exacerbations was made. Patient was commenced on hydrocortisone 10 mg, 5 mg and 5 mg regimen. Steroid inhaler was discontinued following consultation with respiratory physicians. Despite discontinuation of inhaled steroids, patient continued not to mount a response to Synacthen®. Upon further detailed history, patient admitted taking a ‘herbal’ preparation for chronic osteoarthritic knee pain. Toxicology analysis showed presence of dexamethasone, ciprofloxacin, paracetamol, diclofenac, ibuprofen and cimetidine in the herbal medication. Patient was advised to discontinue her herbal preparation. We believe the cause of secondary adrenal insufficiency in our patient was the herbal remedy containing dexamethasone, explaining persistent adrenal suppression despite discontinuation of all prescribed steroids, further possibly contributing to obesity, hypertension and suboptimal control of DM. In conclusion, a comprehensive drug history including herbal and over-the-counter preparations should be elucidated. Investigation for the presence of steroids in these preparations should be considered when patients persist to have secondary adrenal insufficiency despite discontinuation of prescribed steroid medications.

Learning points:

  • The likelihood of complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) in medication-induced secondary adrenal insufficiency should be considered in any patient presenting with potential symptoms of adrenal insufficiency.

  • If the contents of CAM preparation cannot be ascertained, toxicology screening should be considered.

  • Patients should be advised to stop taking CAM preparation when it contains steroids and hydrocortisone replacement therapy commenced, with periodic reassessment of adrenal function, and then if indicated weaned accordingly.

  • Patients should be informed about the contents of CAM therapies, so they can make a truly informed choice regarding the risks and benefits.

  • This case also highlights a need to increase regulatory processes over CAM therapies, given their propensity to contain a number of undisclosed medications and potent steroids.

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E Sanz-Sapera Endocrinology, Vall d’Hebron Hospital, Barcelona, Spain

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S Sarria-Estrada Radiology, Vall d’Hebron Hospital, Barcelona, Spain

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F Arikan Neurosurgery, Vall d’Hebron Hospital, Barcelona, Spain

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B Biagetti Endocrinology, Vall d’Hebron Hospital, Barcelona, Spain

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Summary

Pituitary apoplexy is a rare but potentially life-threatening clinical syndrome characterised by ischaemic infarction or haemorrhage into a pituitary tumour that can lead to spontaneous remission of hormonal hypersecretion. We report the case of a 50-year-old man who attended the emergency department for sudden onset of headache. A computed tomography (CT) scan at admission revealed pituitary haemorrhage and the blood test confirmed the clinical suspicion of acromegaly and an associated hypopituitarism. The T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed the classic pituitary ring sign on the right side of the pituitary. Following admission, he developed acute-onset hyponatraemia that required hypertonic saline administration, improving progressively. Surprisingly, during the follow-up, IGF1 levels became normal and he progressively recovered pituitary function.

Learning points:

  • Patients with pituitary apoplexy may have spontaneous remission of hormonal hypersecretion. If it is not an emergency, we should delay a decision to undertake surgery following apoplexy and re-evaluate hormone secretion.

  • Hyponatraemia is an acute sign of hypocortisolism in pituitary apoplexy. However, SIADH although uncommon, could appear later as a consequence of direct hypothalamic insult and requires active and individualised treatment. For this reason, closely monitoring sodium at the beginning of the episode and throughout the first week is advisable to guard against SIADH.

  • Despite being less frequent, if pituitary apoplexy is limited to the tumour, the patient can recover pituitary function previously damaged by the undiagnosed macroadenoma.

Open access
Taisuke Uchida Department of Neurology, Respirology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Hideki Yamaguchi Department of Neurology, Respirology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Kazuhiro Nagamine Department of Neurology, Respirology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Tadato Yonekawa Department of Neurology, Respirology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Eriko Nakamura Department of Diagnostic Pathology, University of Miyazaki Hospital, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Nobuhiro Shibata Department of Clinical Oncology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Fumiaki Kawano Division of the Gastrointestinal, Endocrine and Pediatric Surgery, Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Yujiro Asada Department of Diagnostic Pathology, University of Miyazaki Hospital, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Masamitsu Nakazato Department of Neurology, Respirology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, Faculty of Medicine, University of Miyazaki, Miyazaki, Japan

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Summary

We report a case of rapid pleural effusion after discontinuation of lenvatinib. A 73-year-old woman was diagnosed with poorly differentiated thyroid cancer with right pleural metastasis. Weekly paclitaxel treatment was performed for 18 weeks, but it was not effective. Oral administration of lenvatinib, a multi-target tyrosine kinase inhibitor, reduced the size of cervical and thoracic tumors and lowered serum thyroglobulin levels. Lenvatinib was discontinued on day 28 because of Grade 2 thrombocytopenia and Grade 3 petechiae. Seven days after discontinuation of lenvatinib, the patient was hospitalized because of dyspnea and right pleural effusion. Pleural effusion rapidly improved with drainage and re-initiation of lenvatinib and did not recur. Anorexia caused by lenvatinib led to undernutrition, which resulted in death 13 months after initiation of lenvatinib. Autopsy revealed extensive necrosis with primary and metastatic lesions, suggesting that the patient responded to lenvatinib. Physicians should be aware of the possibility of flare-up in patients with thyroid cancer treated with lenvatinib.

Learning points:

  • Autopsy findings revealed that lenvatinib was efficacious in treating poorly differentiated thyroid cancer without primary lesion resection.

  • Flare-up phenomenon may occur in thyroid cancer treated with lenvatinib.

  • Attention should be paid to flare-up phenomenon within a few days of discontinuing lenvatinib.

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Lima Lawrence Departments of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

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Peng Zhang Departments of Pulmonary Medicine & Critical Care, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

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Humberto Choi Departments of Pulmonary Medicine & Critical Care, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

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Usman Ahmad Departments of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

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Valeria Arrossi Departments of Anatomic Pathology, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

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Andrei Purysko Departments of Diagnostic Radiology, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

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Vinni Makin Departments of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

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Summary

Ectopic adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) production leading to ectopic ACTH syndrome accounts for a small proportion of all Cushing’s syndrome (CS) cases. Thymic neuroendocrine tumors are rare neoplasms that may secrete ACTH leading to rapid development of hypercortisolism causing electrolyte and metabolic abnormalities, uncontrolled hypertension and an increased risk for opportunistic infections. We present a unique case of a patient who presented with a mediastinal mass, revealed to be an ACTH-secreting thymic neuroendocrine tumor (NET) causing ectopic CS. As the diagnosis of CS from ectopic ACTH syndrome (EAS) remains challenging, we emphasize the necessity for high clinical suspicion in the appropriate setting, concordance between biochemical, imaging and pathology findings, along with continued vigilant monitoring for recurrence after definitive treatment.

Learning points:

  • Functional thymic neuroendocrine tumors are exceedingly rare.

  • Ectopic Cushing’s syndrome secondary to thymic neuroendocrine tumors secreting ACTH present with features of hypercortisolism including electrolyte and metabolic abnormalities, uncontrolled hypertension and hyperglycemia, and opportunistic infections.

  • The ability to undergo surgery and completeness of resection are the strongest prognostic factors for improved overall survival; however, the recurrence rate remains high.

  • A high degree of initial clinical suspicion followed by vigilant monitoring is required for patients with this challenging disease.

Open access