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Adrenal Cancer: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Treatment

Jan 2, 2024

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Causes Of Adrenal Cancer

Symptoms Of Adrenal Cancer

Risk Factors Of Adrenal Cancer

Diagnosis Of Adrenal Cancer

Treatment Of Adrenal Cancer

Surgery

Medicine

Radiation therapy

Chemotherapy

Adrenal Cancer Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis and Treatment

An adrenal gland is a small, triangular gland located above the kidneys. Adrenal cancer seldom begins in one or both of these glands. Nearly every organ and tissue in your body is controlled by hormones that are generated by the adrenal glands.

Another name for adrenal cancer is adrenal cortical carcinoma, which can occur at any age. But the most probable groups to be impacted are youngsters under five and individuals in their 40s and 50s.

Early detection of adrenal cancer may offer hope for recovery. Nevertheless, the probability of a full recovery is reduced if the cancer has spread to areas other than the adrenal glands. Treatment aims to stop the disease's spread or recurrence.

Most growths that occur in the adrenal glands are benign. Benign adrenal tumours: pheochromocytoma and adenoma also can develop in the adrenal glands.


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Causes Of Adrenal Cancer

It is unknown what specifically causes adrenal carcinoma. Adrenal cancer arises when something modifies (mutates) the DNA of an adrenal gland cell. A cell's DNA contains instructions that tell it what to do.

 Mutations can give instructions to cells that would have killed them but instead allow them to multiply uncontrolled and survive. When this happens, the abnormal cells accumulate and create a tumour. Tumour cells can split off and spread, or metastasis, to other parts of the body.

Also Read: Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment and Complications

Symptoms Of Adrenal Cancer

The following are the signs and symptoms of adrenal cancer:

  • Weight gain
  • Weakening of the muscles
  • Pink or purple stretchmarks
  • Women with fluctuating hormones may experience irregular periods, abundant facial hair, and hair loss on the head.
  • Shirking testicles and enlarging breast tissue due to variations in men's hormones
  • Vomiting
  • Discomfort in the back, fever
  • Decreased appetite

Also Read: Renal Artery Stenosis: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Diagnosis, Treatment and Complications


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Risk Factors Of Adrenal Cancer

Adrenal cancer is more common in people with inherited conditions that increase their susceptibility to certain cancers. These genetic syndromes include the following:

  • Wiedemann-Beckwith syndrome
  • Carney complex
  • Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia (MEN 1)
  • Li-Fraumeni Syndrome
  • Lynch syndrome

Also Read: Rectovaginal Fistula: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Complications

Diagnosis Of Adrenal Cancer

Several tests and techniques are used to diagnose adrenal carcinoma:

  • Blood and urine analysis. Laboratory testing may reveal abnormally high levels of some adrenal gland-produced hormones in your blood or urine, including cortisol, aldosterone, and androgens.
  • Imaging. Your physician can recommend CT, MRI, or PET scans to get additional information about any growths on your adrenal glands and to check if the cancer has moved to other areas of your body like your liver or lungs.
  • Adrenal glands examination. If you are suspected of having adrenal cancer, your doctor may recommend removing the affected adrenal gland. The gland is inspected in a lab by a medical professional who specialises in the study of body tissue (pathologist). As such, the study can verify whether you have cancer and exactly what types of cells are involved.

Also Read: Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumours: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Treatment Of Adrenal Cancer

When treating adrenal cancer, surgery is usually necessary to remove the entire cancer. If surgery is not a possibility, various treatments can be used to prevent the cancer from coming back.

Surgery

During the procedure, the goal is to remove the entire adrenal cancer. An adrenalectomy is necessary for this, removing the affected adrenal gland in its entirety.

During the treatment, surgeons may also remove any or all of those organs if they find signs that the cancer has spread to other structures, including the kidney or liver.

Medicine

There is a long-standing medicine that has been used to treat advanced adrenal cancer, and it has demonstrated promise to delay the return of the disease after surgery. Patients with a high risk of cancer recurrence may be administered mitotane (Lysodren) after surgery. Mitotane is still being studied for this reason.

Radiation therapy

Strong energy beams like protons and X-rays kill cancer cells during radiation therapy. Radiation therapy is sometimes used after surgery for adrenal cancer in order to eliminate any possible residual cells. It can also help relieve pain and other cancer-related symptoms that have extended to other parts of the body, like the bone.

Chemotherapy

For adrenal malignancies too large to be surgically removed or that return after first treatment, chemotherapy may be able to slow the cancer's spread.

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