Who is affected by Cushing's syndrome

Cushing's syndrome is rare, and the number of people affected is unknown.

The use of corticosteroid medication is the most common cause of Cushing's syndrome. When Cushing's syndrome is caused by something other than corticosteroid medication:

  • About 70% of these cases are caused by tumors on the pituitary gland. This is known as Cushing's disease. Between 5 and 10 people per 1 million develop Cushing's disease every year.1
  • About 10% to 15% are caused by tumors on the adrenal glands.1 Women are more likely than men to develop Cushing's syndrome caused by an adrenal tumor. It most often occurs between the ages of 40 and 60. However, in childhood, adrenal tumors account for about 65% of all cases and occur more frequently in girls than in boys.2
  • About 15% are caused by a tumor somewhere other than the pituitary or adrenal glands.1 This occurs in men 3 times more often than in women, generally between 40 and 60 years of age.2


  1. Stewart PM (2008). Corticosteroid hormone action section of The adrenal cortex. In HM Kronenberg et al., eds., Williams Textbook of Endocrinology, 11th ed., pp. 453–477. Philadelphia: Saunders.
  2. Miller WL, Chrousos GP (2001). Cushing's syndrome section of The adrenal cortex. In P Felig, LA Frohman, eds., Endocrinology and Metabolism, 4th ed., pp. 476–511. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Last Updated: April 29, 2008

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