The type of treatment depends on the underlying cause of the high cortisol levels. If you use glucocorticoids, your healthcare provider will likely lower the dosage or prescribe a non-glucocorticoid medication. If a tumor is causing Cushing’s syndrome, it might need to be killed with radiation or removed surgically. Another option is for your healthcare provider to prescribe a medication such as ketoconazole that will slow down the production of cortisol. You may work with several healthcare providers to treat the tumor and Cushing’s syndrome symptoms.
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is necessary if a tumor is cancerous and has spread to other parts of your body. Be sure to discuss all side effects with your healthcare provider.
- Medications: Adding drugs that reduce cortisol or taking away drugs that can cause Cushing’s syndrome.
- Radiation: Surgery on a pituitary tumor may not be possible. In those cases, you might have to go through a six-week period of radiation. Cortisol levels may take years to return to normal. Medicines that increase cortisol levels are available. Be sure to discuss all side effects with your healthcare provider.
- Surgery: Surgically removing pituitary tumors, adrenal tumors and ectopic tumors is effective, but you’ll have to be prescribed cortisol medicine. You’ll be able to stop the medications after six to 18 months. Often, after laparoscopic surgery, you’ll be able to leave the hospital within one or two days and feel back to “normal” in about three to five weeks.
If Cushing’s syndrome is properly treated, the disease may go away after two to 18 months. Be sure to stay in contact with your healthcare provider during that period.