Adrenal Gland Cancer


Adrenal cancer is one of rarest cancer, which occurs in two out of a million people. Adrenal cancer is the medical condition in which abnormal cells are formed or travel to your adrenal glands. The human body has two adrenal glands, one above each kidney, and functions in producing hormones which control blood sugar levels and regulate blood pressure. Two major adrenal hormones are cortisol and aldosterone. Adrenal gland cancer is caused in the outer layer of the adrenal gland.


Symptoms & Causes

Some of the commonly known symptoms of Adrenal Gland Cancer are, high blood pressure, weakness, muscle cramps and low blood potassium levels. As the tumor of adrenal cancer grows, it pushes nearby organs and tissues, which causes pain near the tumor area. Some patients also feel being full and find it difficult to eat anything.

Up until now, there are no sure causes of tumor that grows in your adrenal glands, but studies conclude that there could be some genetic disorders, which are inherited to the next generation. If you smoke heavily, then your chances of getting adrenal cancer are high.



In order to diagnose the Adrenal Gland Cancer, doctors perform various lab tests to confirm if the tumor is functional or non-functional and whether it has been spread to other body parts or not. Blood and urine samples will be taken to examine the level of adrenal hormones. If required, the doctor may perform a biopsy, in which a small amount of tissue is taken for observation under microscope. CT scan and MRI are other tests which draws a clearer picture of the tumor inside, which helps doctors to decide the severity of the case.



Treatment options depend on the age and overall health condition of the patient, and size, location and stage of the tumor. The diagnostic tests also help determine which treatment to be followed.

Listed below are the most common treatment procedures for Adrenal Gland Cancer:

  • Surgery: During surgery, removal of the tumor is done and if required, some of the surrounding healthy tissues are eliminated as well. Adrenalectomy is the medical term for removal of the adrenal gland with cancer and surgical endocrinologist is the surgeon who is specialized in treating adrenal cancer using surgery.
  • Hormone therapy: During adrenal gland cancer, our adrenal glands produce hormones in excess. So the doctor may prescribe some medicines to control the production level of these hormones. Hormone therapy usually comes before, during or after other treatment procedures like surgery and chemotherapy.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is the practice of destroying cancer cells’ growth with the help of proper drugs. Systematic chemotherapy is practiced in order to reach each tumor cell in the body.
  • Radiation therapy: In radiation therapy, high energy x-rays are projected to the tumor cells which eventually kills them. Although radiation therapy is required in rare cases.



Recovering from adrenal cancer may include some side effects as well, depending on the treatment procedure followed. Below are some common side effects observed:

  • Tiredness
  • Digestive System Problems
  • Muscle and Bone Changes
  • Weight Gain
  • Memory Problems
  • Blood Clots
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Infection
  • Hair loss
  • Loss of appetite


Post Operative Care

Recovery takes time after surgical and other treatment procedures for Adrenal gland cancer. Studies show that adrenal gland cancer can come back in the future as well so better follow up with the doctor for regular checkups and diagnosis. During these visits, the doctor might be questioning you to follow up any abnormality and side effect. He might perform regular imaging scans to check if the tumor has re-grown