Endocrinology concerns the manufacture, secretion and action of hormones. Hormones are ‘chemical messengers’ which are released from endocrine glands, and may have actions restricted to a specific target organ e.g. adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) and the adrenal gland, or widespread effects throughout the body e.g. thyroid hormones. Some endocrine disorders are common, particularly those of the thyroid gland (goiter, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism), and the pancreas (diabetes mellitus, see Chapter 20). For example, thyroid disease affects about 4% of women in the UK, whereas Cushing’s disease, the result of a pituitary tumour with consequent oversecretion of Cortisol by the cortical cells of the adrenal glands, is very rare. In a busy specialist endocrine clinic there will be 400–500 patients with thyroid disease for every patient with Cushing’s disease.


Growth Hormone Parathyroid Gland Growth Hormone Deficiency Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2006

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  • Anthony Toft

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