Adrenal Cancer – What it is, Symptoms and Treatments

Adrenal Cancer – What it is, Symptoms and Treatments of this condition. Also, Adrenal Cancer is a rare cancer that starts in the small triangular glands (adrenal glands) located on top of your kidneys . The adrenal glands produce hormones that give instructions to virtually every organ and tissue in your body. Adrenal cancer , also called adrenocortical cancer, can occur at any age. But it is more likely to affect children under the age of 5 and adults in their 40s and 50s. The adrenal canceris often aggressive. When found early, there is a chance of healing. But if the cancer has spread to areas other than the adrenal gland, a cure becomes less likely. Treatment can be used to slow progression or recurrence.

Not all growths that form on the adrenal glands are cancer. Non-cancerous (benign) adrenal tumors, such as adenoma or pheochromocytoma, can also develop in the adrenal glands. So, check out now  Adrenal Cancer – What is it, Symptoms and Treatments:

What is Adrenal Cancer: Adrenal  Cancer is a condition that occurs when abnormal cells form or travel to the adrenal glands. Your body has two adrenal glands, one located above each kidney. Adrenal cancer  usually occurs in the outermost layer of the glands, or the adrenal cortex. It usually appears as a tumor. A cancerous tumor of the adrenal gland is called adrenal cortical carcinoma. A noncancerous tumor of the adrenal gland is called a benign adenoma.

Benign adenomas are relatively small, usually less than 2 inches in diameter. Most people with this type of tumor have no symptoms. These benign tumors usually occur in just one adrenal gland, but can appear in both glands on rare occasions. Adrenal cortical carcinomas are usually much larger than benign adenomas.

If a tumor is more than 2 inches in diameter, it is more likely to be cancerous. Sometimes they can get big enough to press on your organs and cause more symptoms. They can also sometimes produce hormones that cause changes in the body. If you have cancer in the adrenal glands, but it didn’t originate there, it’s not considered adrenal cortical carcinoma. Cancers of the breast, stomach, kidney, skin, and lymphoma are more likely to spread to the adrenal glands.

Causes of Adrenal Cancer:  It is not clear why some people get  Adrenal Cancer . But you may be at a higher risk if you have one of these genetic disorders:

  • Li-Fraumeni Syndrome
  • Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome
  • Carney Complex
  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia
  • Familial adenomatous polyposis
  • Lynch syndrome

Adrenal Cancer Symptoms:  The symptoms of Adrenal Cancer are caused by the overproduction of hormones. These are typically androgen, estrogen, cortisol and aldosterone. Symptoms can also arise from large tumors pressing on organs in the body. Symptoms of excess androgen or estrogen production are easier to detect in children than adults because physical changes are more active and visible during puberty. Some signs of adrenal cancer in children can be:

  • Excessive growth of pubic, armpit and facial hair
  • an enlarged penis
  • an enlarged clitoris
  • Big boobs in boys
  • Precocious puberty in girls

In about half of people , adrenal cancer symptoms do not appear until the tumor is large enough to press on other organs. Women with tumors that cause increases in androgen may notice facial hair growth or voice deepening. Men with tumors that cause increases in estrogen may notice breast enlargement or breast tenderness.

If excess hormones are typically found in this person, such as estrogen in women and androgens in men, the diagnosis of the tumor becomes more difficult. Some other adrenal cancer symptoms that produce excess cortisol and aldosterone in adults can include:

Adrenal Cancer Risk Factors:  At this point, scientists don’t know what causes Adrenal Cancer . About 85% of  adrenal cancers occur for unknown reasons. About 15% of these cancers are caused by a genetic disease. Certain conditions can put you at an increased risk of developing  adrenal cancer . These include:

  • Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, which is a disease of abnormal growth marked by a large body and organs; Individuals with this syndrome are also at risk for kidney and liver cancer.
  • Li-Fraumeni syndrome, which is an inherited disorder that causes an increased risk for many types of cancer
  • Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), which is an inherited condition characterized by a large number of polyps in the large intestine that also carries a high risk of colon cancer
  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN1), which is an inherited condition that causes many tumors to develop, both benign and malignant, in hormone-producing tissues such as the pituitary, parathyroid, and pancreas

Smoking probably also increases the risk  of Adrenal Cancer , but there is still no conclusive proof.

Diagnosis of Adrenal Cancer:  The diagnosis of  Adrenal Cancer usually starts with your medical history and a physical exam. Your doctor will also draw blood and collect a urine sample for testing. Your doctor may order new tests, such as:

  • An image-guided fine needle biopsy
  • an ultrasound
  • a CT scan
  • A positron emission tomography (PET) scan
  • an MRI
  • An adrenal angiogram

Adrenal Cancer Treatments:  Early treatment sometimes cures  Adrenal Cancer . There are currently three main types of standard treatment for Adrenal Cancer:

Surgery:  Your doctor may recommend a procedure called an adrenalectomy, which involves removing the adrenal gland. If adrenal cancer  has spread to other parts of the body, your surgeon may also remove nearby lymph nodes and tissue.

Radiation Therapy:  This treatment uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells and stop new cancer cells from growing.

Chemotherapy:  Depending on the stage  of Adrenal Cancer , you need to undergo chemotherapy. This form of cancer therapy helps stop the growth of cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be given orally or injected into a vein or muscle. Your doctor may combine chemotherapy with other types of cancer treatments.

Other Treatments for Adrenal Cancer:  Ablation, or the destruction of tumor cells, may be necessary for tumors where it is not safe to remove them surgically. Mitotane is the most common drug used in the treatment  of Adrenal Cancer . In some cases, it is given after surgery.

It can block the excessive production of hormones and can help shrink the tumor. You can also discuss clinical trial treatments with your doctor, such as biological therapy, which uses the immune system to fight cancer cells.

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