A woman looking at illustration of the adrenal glands on a tablet.

How many people are affected by adrenal gland disorders?

The number of people affected depends on the specific type of adrenal gland disorder.

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

CAH is one of the most common genetic disorders, affecting approximately 1 in 100 people.2 Mild CAH is much 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. 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.2,3

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

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. 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.6 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.7

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

Hyperaldosteronism was thought to occur only in about 1% of all patients with hypertension. However, recently, this estimate has changed to greater than 10%.9


  1. Cushing's Support and Research Foundation. (n.d.). The basics. Retrieved May 24, 2016, from http://csrf.net/understanding-cushings/the-basics/ External Web Site Policy [top]
  2. CARES Foundation. (2014). What is congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH)? Retrieved May 24, 2016, from http://www.caresfoundation.org/what-is-cah/ External Web Site Policy [top]
  3. Orphanet. (2012). Congenital adrenal hyperplasia. Retrieved May 24, 2016, from http://www.orpha.net//consor/cgi-bin/OC_Exp.php?Lng=GB&Expert=418 External Web Site Policy [top]
  4. National Library of Medicine. (November 2013). Pituitary tumor. Retrieved May 24, 2016, from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000704.htm [top]
  5. Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, OncoLink. (December 2011). All about pituitary cancer: The basics. Retrieved August 10, 2016, from http://www.oncolink.org/types/article.cfm?id=9538&aid=251 External Web Site Policy [top]
  6. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (n.d.). Genetic screening. Retrieved August 10, 2016, from https://science.nichd.nih.gov/confluence/display/pheo/Genetic+Screening [top]
  7. Columbia University Medical Center, Department of Surgery. (n.d.). Paraganglioma. Retrieved May 24, 2016, from http://columbiasurgery.org/conditions-and-treatments/paraganglioma External Web Site Policy [top]
  8. Munver, R., & Volfson, I. A. (2006). Adrenal insufficiency: Diagnosis and management. Current Urology Reports, 7, 80–85. [top]
  9. Endocrine Society. (2016). The management of primary aldosteronism:Case detection, diagnosis, and treatment: An Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. Retrieved May 24, 2016, from http://press.endocrine.org/doi/10.1210/jc.2015-4061 External Web Site Policy [top]

What are some types of adrenal gland disorders?

What are the symptoms of adrenal gland disorders?

How many people are affected by adrenal gland disorders?

What causes adrenal gland disorders?

How do health care providers diagnose adrenal gland disorders?

What are the treatments for adrenal gland disorders?

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