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How many people are affected by or at risk of adrenal gland disorders?

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The number of people affected depends on the specific disorder.

Cushing’s Syndrome

Cushing’s syndrome is uncommon, affecting about 10 to 15 out of every 1 million people each year. This syndrome can occur at any age, but it occurs most often in adults between the ages of 20 and 50 years old. Women are affected five times more frequently than are men.1

Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH)

CAH is one of the most common genetic disorders, affecting approximately 1 in 100 people.2 Mild CAH is more common than severe CAH. Severe CAH, also referred to as complete or classic CAH, is estimated to occur in 1 in 14,000 people.3 CAH affects men and women equally, although it is found more frequently in people from certain ethnic backgrounds, including those of Ashkenazi Jewish, Hispanic, and Italian heritages.2

Pituitary Tumors

Although a large number of people have pituitary tumors (up to 20% of the world’s population), most of these tumors are not cancerous, do not cause symptoms, and are never diagnosed.4 Cancerous tumors in the pituitary are very rare; only about 100 cases have ever been reported.5

Pheochromocytoma

Pheochromocytomas are very rare. Only about 800 cases of pheochromocytoma are diagnosed each year in the United States. Although they can occur at any age, they occur most commonly in middle age. A pheochromocytoma can be life threatening if not diagnosed and treated.6 In approximately one-third of pheochromocytoma cases, there is a family history of the disease. Researchers have identified multiple genes as being associated with the tumors.7

Paraganglioma

Paragangliomas also are very rare. Only about 2 in every 1 million people are affected. These tumors can occur at any age. Up to 25% of paragangliomas are caused by genetic syndromes.8

Addison’s Disease

Addison’s disease is diagnosed in 1 to 4 of every 100,000 people. It affects men and women of all ages.9

Hyperaldosteronism

Hyperaldosteronism was thought to occur only in about 1% of all patients with hypertension. However, recently, this estimate has changed to greater than 10%.7


  1. Cushing’s Support and Research Foundation. (n.d.). The basics. Retrieved June 1, 2012, from http://csrf.net/understanding-cushings/the-basics/ External Web Site Policy [top]
  2. CARES Foundation. (2007). CAH: An incredibly common yet relatively unknown disorder. Retrieved June 1, 2012, from http://www.caresfoundation.org/what-is-cah/non-classical-cah/ External Web Site Policy [top]
  3. Orphanet. (2012). Congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Retrieved June 1, 2012, from http://www.orpha.net//consor/cgi-bin/OC_Exp.php?Lng=GB&Expert=418 External Web Site Policy [top]
  4. New York Times Health Guide. (2012). Pituitary tumor. Retrieved June 1, 2012, from http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/pituitary-tumor/overview.html External Web Site Policy [top]
  5. Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, OncoLink. (2011). Pituitary cancer: The basics. Retrieved June 1, 2012, from http://www.oncolink.org/types/article.cfm?c=4&s=9&ss=819&id=9538&CFID=53210410&CFTOKEN=13560876 External Web Site Policy [top]
  6. The Endocrine Society. (2008). Case detection, diagnosis, and treatment of patients with primary aldosteronism. Retrieved September 6, 2012, from http://www.endo-society.org/guidelines/final/upload/Final-Standalone-PA-Guideline.pdf (PDF - 472 KB) External Web Site Policy [top]
  7. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (n.d.). The proper diagnosis, treatment, genetics, and research of pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma. Retrieved June 21, 2012, from https://science.nichd.nih.gov/confluence/display/pheo/Genetic+Screening [top]
  8. Columbia University Medical Center, Department of Surgery. (2011). Paraganglioma. Retrieved June 1, 2012, from http://www.columbiasurgery.org/adrenal/paraganglioma.html External Web Site Policy [top]
  9. Munver, R., & Volfson, I. A. (2006). Adrenal insufficiency: Diagnosis and management. Current Urology Reports, 7, 80-85. [top]

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Last Updated Date: 11/30/2012
Last Reviewed Date: 09/30/2013
Vision National Institutes of Health Home BOND National Institues of Health Home Home Storz Lab: Section on Environmental Gene Regulation Home Machner Lab: Unit on Microbial Pathogenesis Home Division of Intramural Population Health Research Home Bonifacino Lab: Section on Intracellular Protein Trafficking Home Lilly Lab: Section on Gamete Development Home Lippincott-Schwartz Lab: Section on Organelle Biology