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Understanding Adrenal Cancer

Updated on July 26, 2017

Cancer of the adrenal glands is a malignant condition which yet does not have a precise etiological factor. This article gives an insight into the
symptoms and the various treatment modalities.

Adrenal cancer is a tumor of the adrenal gland. This article gives insight into
symptoms and causes along with various treatment modalities.

Adrenal cancer is a malignant tumor of the adrenal gland, and includes: adrenocortical carcinoma, neuroblastoma and pheochromocytoma. Adrenal cancer may originate in the adrenal gland or may metastasize to it from cancer in another part of the body.

Adrenal Cancer Causes

There is no definite cause for the occurrence of adrenal gland cancer. No etiological factors or risk factors have yet been recognized. The malignancy is comparatively common in the age group of 30–50 years, or less than age 5 years. Tumors develop when the cells undergo mutation and continue to multiply autonomously and uncontrollably, thus proliferating and forming a mass.

What are the Symptoms of Adrenal Cancer?

There may not be any presenting symptoms during the initial part of the disease. As the cancer grows certain symptoms become apparent. Common clinical features of adrenal gland cancer are:

  • Heaviness and pain in the abdomen
  • Libido and sexual function become altered
  • Mood swings are common
  • Easy bruising and easy bleeding
  • Increase in hair growth
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Menstrual cycle becomes irregular
  • Voice turns deep and hoarse
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain occurs, especially, around the face, abdomen, and chest

Certain cases of adrenal gland cancer have serious, even fatal symptoms. These are:

  • Altered consciousness, insensitivity, and fainting
  • Fever
  • Alteration in the mental state, such as: disorientation, irritability, stupefaction, confusion, lethargy, listlessness, hallucinations, and delusions
  • Pain in the chest
  • Palpitations
  • Breathing becomes difficult and labored
  • Excessive abdominal pain
  • Seizures

Chemotherapy and surgical intervention play a crucial role in cancer treatment

Adrenal Cancer Treatment

Diagnosis of the adrenal gland cancer is done through CT scans and biopsies. Your physician will also order blood tests and urine tests. The hormone profile also helps make the diagnosis.

Treatment for adrenal malignancy calls for a multidisciplinary approach. a team of health care professionals help manage the case successfully.

  • Diet plays a crucial role in management of cancer. There are certain foods that help control growth of cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy: chemotherapy drugs are administered to annihilate the cancerous cells.
  • Radiation therapy: radiotherapy may be given in conjunct with chemotherapy and surgery or by itself, depending on the stage of the disease. Radiation therapy helps eliminate the tumor cells.
  • Surgery: surgical intervention is necessary to evaluate the spread of the cancer and to excise the tumor mass.
  • Corticosteroid drugs: are given to help recover after the treatment regimen.
  • Drugs: certain drugs are administered to block the synthesis of the hormone cortisol, when its levels are greatly elevated.

Effective treatment of cancer needs utmost love and support from family and friends. Counseling plays a pivotal role in the management of the case too. What’s more, support groups are exceedingly beneficial. The patient can interact and share experiences with other cancer patients and make a better recovery.

Prognosis of adrenal cancer is moderate, and principally depends on the stage when the cancer is diagnosed and the extent of metastasis.


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      Janice Horner 3 years ago

      Very informative hub, I have never heard of this type of cancer. Interesting.