Can Addison's Disease Cause Cancer

Addison Crisis: Investigations & Diagnosis

Each diagnosis is preceded by a questioning of the patient's medical history (anamnesis). The endocrinologist asks about typical symptoms and previous treatments, e.g. B. such as cortisone therapy or surgery. This is usually followed by a physical exam.

A blood test provides more precise information about the disease. In primary adrenal insufficiency (more primary Addison's disease), the potassium level in the blood is increased and the sodium level is decreased, and the blood sugar level may be reduced. More decisive, however, are the concentrations of the hormones ACTH and cortisol in the blood. In primary Addison's disease, the concentration of ACTH is increased and that of cortisol is decreased. In secondary or tertiary Addison's disease, both ACTH and cortisol levels are decreased.

The so-called ACTH short test is used for a precise diagnosis. The internist measures whether the cortisol concentration increases when ACTH is artificially injected into the blood. If cortisol is then formed, this indicates a functional adrenal gland. The absence of a reaction suggests the presence of Addison's disease. This can be both a primary (link to causes) and a secondary (link to causes) form.

If there is a suspicion of an immunological cause, the internist can carry out an antibody test. This shows whether the body has produced antibodies against the adrenal tissue. In male patients, the amount of long-chain fatty acids in the blood should also be measured in order to rule out the hereditary disease adrenoleukodystrophy.

With the help of imaging methods such as ultrasound (sonography), computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the internist can detect whether Addison's disease is caused by an enlarged adrenal gland, metastases of a tumor or calcifications of tuberculosis.