Adrenal Cancer

Adrenal cancer is a rare but potentially deadly type of cancer. Symptoms range from hormonal imbalance to unintended weight changes, or other potential warning signs. The board-certified urologists at Urology Associates have the experience to diagnose and treat adrenal cancer.

Questions and Answers


What are the Adrenal Glands?

Your adrenal glands are the small, triangle-shaped organs at the top of your kidneys. The outer adrenal cortex makes aldosterone and cortisol — two steroid hormones. The inner adrenal medulla produces adrenaline, noradrenaline, and other hormones.

These hormones regulate your reaction to stress, metabolism, blood pressure, blood sugar, and the balance of potassium and sodium in your body.


What Causes Adrenal Cancer?

Adrenal cancer occurs when abnormal cells emerge and multiply in your adrenal glands. The disease is most common in children under the age of 5 and adults in their 40s and 50s.

While medical researchers haven’t identified a specific cause of adrenal cancer, they know that your risk is higher if you have an inherited syndrome such as Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, Carney complex, or multiple endocrine neoplasia, type 1.


What are the Warning Signs of Adrenal Cancer?

Adrenal cancer might not cause symptoms in its early stages. As your condition progresses, you might develop symptoms, including:

  • Unintended weight changes

  • Muscle weakness

  • Pink or purple stretch marks

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Abdominal bloating

  • Back pain

  • Fever

  • Appetite loss

Women might notice facial hair growth, hair loss on their scalp, and irregular periods. Men might experience gynecomastia (enlarged breast tissue) and shrinking testicles.


How is Adrenal Cancer Diagnosed?

Our team uses a variety of tests to identify adrenal cancer, typically beginning with blood tests and urinalysis to assess your hormone levels.

They also order imaging tests, including MRI, CT, and PET scans, to look for abnormal growths on your adrenal glands and signs that the cancer has metastasized to nearby organs like your lungs or liver.

If these tests indicate adrenal cancer, your doctor orders a biopsy or removes the entire affected adrenal gland to test for cancer.


How is Adrenal Cancer Treated?

Your doctor will provide a customized treatment plan to help you fight adrenal cancer. In most cases, they recommend surgery to remove the cancerous cells or the entire affected adrenal gland.

During surgery, your doctor looks for evidence that the cancer has spread and, if necessary, removes abnormal cells from neighboring organs.

They might also recommend that you take medication, such as mitotane, to reduce your risk of adrenal cancer coming back, as well as radiation or chemotherapy to ensure that all of the cancer cells are destroyed.

If you’re concerned about adrenal cancer, never hesitate to call us. To receive the highest quality of treatment for adrenal cancer, schedule an appointment today.

If you have further questions or are experiencing symptoms of a urologic condition, call us or schedule an appointment today.