Adrenal Cancer

Adrenal Cancer

Adrenal Cancer

Adrenal cancer, also known as adrenocortical carcinoma, is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that originates in the adrenal glands, which are located on top of each kidney. These glands produce hormones that regulate various bodily functions. 

When cancer develops in them, it can lead to an overproduction of hormones, causing a range of symptoms such as high blood pressure, weight gain, and muscle weakness.


Adrenal cancer, also known as adrenal cortical carcinoma, is a rare and aggressive form of cancer that develops in the adrenal glands. While the exact cause is not fully understood, it is thought to result from genetic mutations that trigger uncontrolled cell growth in the adrenal cortex, the outer layer of the adrenal glands. These mutations can occur spontaneously or be inherited, and certain genetic syndromes, such as Li-Fraumeni syndrome or Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, are associated with a higher risk of adrenal cancer. Additionally, exposure to certain environmental factors, such as radiation or certain chemicals, may also contribute to its development.

Adrenal cancer typically presents with vague symptoms and is often diagnosed at an advanced stage, making early detection and treatment crucial for improved outcomes.


Adrenal cancer is often diagnosed at an advanced stage through image testing, blood/urine tests, or lab analysis of the adrenal gland. Due to its aggressive nature and late-stage detection, the prognosis for adrenal cancer can be challenging, making early diagnosis and intervention crucial for improved outcomes.

Signs and Symptoms include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Weight gain
  • Pink or purple stretch marks on the skin
  • Hormone changes in women that may cause excessive facial hair, hair loss on the head, and irregular periods
  • Hormone changes in men that might cause enlarged breast tissue and shrinking testicles
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Back pain
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Fever
  • Loss of weight without trying
  • Loss of appetite

Treatment of Adrenal Cancer

Treatment typically involves a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy.


Surgery is the primary treatment for adrenal cancer. The goal is to remove the tumor and, if necessary, the affected adrenal gland. In some cases, this may involve removing both adrenal glands (bilateral adrenalectomy). The surgeon will also check for any nearby lymph nodes or other tissues that may be affected and remove them if necessary.


Chemotherapy may be used before or after surgery, depending on the extent of the disease and the likelihood of the cancer spreading. Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment that involves the use of drugs to kill cancer cells throughout the body.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy may be recommended in some cases, especially if the cancer has spread to nearby tissues or lymph nodes. It uses high-energy X-rays or other forms of radiation to target and destroy cancer cells.
The choice of treatment will depend on the stage of the cancer, the patient’s overall health, and the expertise of the medical team. It’s important for patients with adrenal cancer to work closely with their healthcare providers to develop a personalized treatment plan. Additionally, because adrenal cancer is a rare and complex disease, seeking care at a medical center with experience in treating this type of cancer is often recommended.
Cancer Clinics of North Texas

Cancer Clinics of North Texas will be closed for the Thanksgiving Holiday on Thursday, 11/23 and Friday 11/24

We at Cancer Clinics of North Texas would like to wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving Holiday! We will return to normal Business hours on Monday, November 27, 2023.