Signs and symptoms of Cushing's syndrome (CS) overlap with common diseases, such as the metabolic syndrome, obesity, osteoporosis, and depression. Therefore, it can take years to finally diagnose CS, though early diagnosis is important for prevention of complications.
The aim of this study was to assess the time span between first symptoms and diagnosis of CS in different populations in order to identify factors associated with an early diagnosis.
A systematic literature search via PubMed was performed to identify studies reporting on time to diagnosis in CS. In addition, unpublished data from patients of our tertiary care center and 4 other centers were included.
Clinical studies reporting on the time to diagnosis of CS were eligible. Corresponding authors were contacted to obtain additional information relevant to the research question.
Data were extracted from the text of the retrieved articles and from additional information provided by authors contacted successfully. From initially 3326 screened studies 44 were included.
Mean time to diagnosis for patients with CS was 34 months (ectopic CS: 14 months; adrenal CS: 30 months; and pituitary CS: 38 months; p<0.001). No difference was found for gender, age (</≥ 18 years), and year of diagnosis (before/after 2000). Patients with pituitary CS had a longer time to diagnosis in Germany than elsewhere.
Time to diagnosis differs for subtypes of CS but not for gender and age. Time to diagnosis remains to be long and requires to be improved.