Adrenal cancer occurs when a tumor grows in one or both of your adrenal glands. Often, it doesn't have any symptoms. Tumors are usually discovered by accident during an ultrasound, MRI or CT scan for another condition.
Adrenal glands are small endocrine glands located above your kidneys. Each gland has two parts: the cortex (outer layer) and the medulla (the inner area). Both parts produce hormones in the body. The hormones help you stay healthy, regulate your response to stress, and cause your body to have masculine or feminine characteristics. Adrenal cancer is rare, with estimates of approximately 200 cases per year. Types of adrenal cancers include:
- Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC): This is the most common type of adrenal cancer, which forms in the cortex. Usually, tumors are discovered when they grow and cause pain or a feeling of fullness, resulting in weight loss. The condition may also cause weight gain, excess facial hair or early puberty.
- Pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma: These are rare and typically benign tumors that come from the same type of tissue. Pheochromocytoma forms in the adrenal medulla (the center of the adrenal gland). Paragangliomas form outside the adrenal gland. These types of adrenal cancer typically originate from adrenaline-producing cells. Symptoms are commonly associated with increased adrenaline levels and can include higher blood pressure, excess sweating, racing heart and anxiety.
- Primary macronodular adrenal hyperplasia (PMAH): Not considered cancer, PMAH is characterized by multiple lumps (nodules) in the adrenal glands. These nodules are usually found in both adrenal glands and vary in size. They cause adrenal gland enlargement and production of higher-than-normal levels of cortisol, a hormone that suppresses inflammation and protects your body from physical stress such as infection or trauma. PMAH is considered a form of Cushing's syndrome, which can cause problems related to the overproduction of hormones.
In approximately 60 percent of people, symptoms related to excessive hormone secretion are the main reasons for seeking medical attention.
Why Choose Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center?
Only center in South Florida with a specialty endocrine testing center. You receive greater accuracy in your diagnosis, leading to more precise treatments and better results. Located at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, the center is staffed by specialized nurses and technical assistants who perform complex hormone tests.
Advanced radiation oncology tools. Sylvester is one of only five medical centers in the country with ViewRay — MRI-guided radiation therapy. And, our RapidArc® radiotherapy system delivers intensity modulated external radiation therapy (IMRT). This leads to more efficient and effective treatments, shorter treatment times, pinpoint accuracy in tumor targeting, and less damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
More cancer clinical trials than any other South Florida hospital. If appropriate for your cancer and stage, our clinical trials provide you with the newest ways to treat and potentially cure your cancer.