Adrenocortical Carcinoma



Adrenocortical Carcinoma (ACC) is an infrequent disease that is caused by a malignant growth in the adrenal cortex, which is the outermost part of the adrenal gland. Possible to heal at early stages, just 30% of this disease is confined to the adrenal gland at the point of analysis. Because these tumors are apt to be found years subsequent to their time of growing, they have the chance of affecting nearby organs, extend to distant organs and cause abundant changes in the body because of the surplus hormones they make.


Types of ACC

Basically, there are 2 categories of adrenocortical carcinomas. These are:

  1. Functioning Tumors: It raises the production of adrenal hormones. Also, with these tumors, huge quantity of cortisol, testosterone and aldosterone are generally found in the body.
  2. Non-Functioning Tumors: It does not raise the adrenal glands hormone production. A large amount of tumors on the adrenal glands are non-cancerous.


Symptoms & Causes

Actually, the main cause of this cancer is unknown. Nevertheless, it is likely caused by a pre-existing adenoma that turns malignant. Some of the common causes for ACC involve having these hereditary diseases:

  1. Li-Fraumeni syndrome.
  2. Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome.
  3. Carney complex.

Symptoms of ACC are:

  1. Rounded bulge elevated on the back just underneath the neck.
  2. Rounded face with chubby cheeks.
  3. Obesity.
  4. Undersized growth.
  5. Muscle cramps.




Your surgeon will ask you to take imaging tests so that tumor on your adrenal glands could be identified. These tests include:

  1. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  2. Computed Tomography (CT) Scans
  3. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scans



Depending on the phase of your cancer, a diversity of treatments is obtainable. These are:

  1. Chemotherapy:This therapy uses drugs to destroy cancer cells in the body. The intake of these drugs can be either through the mouth or through the veins.
  2. Surgery: This method removes the adrenal gland and neighboring tissue, if required.
  3. Radiation: Radiation therapy can be used to destroy malignant cells. It involves two types of radiation therapy.
  4. External Radiation Therapy: It is practiced from the outer surface of your body.
  5. Internal Radiation Therapy: It involves the usage of radioactive substances directly to the tumor, within your body.
  6. Biologic Therapy:It utilizes your own immune system and body to kill the cancer.



Various treatment complications of Adrenocortical Carcinoma are:

  1. A functioning adrenocortical cancer that produces surplus cortisol can consequently result in Cushing's Syndrome.
  2. The Conn's Syndrome can occur due to increased aldosterone production.
  3. Pheochromocytoma is unexpected or continuous high blood pressure that is normally resistant to treatment.
  4. Severe headaches.
  5. Heart palpitations.


Post Operative Care

Follow-up care is very imperative subsequent to treatment for adrenal cancer.

  1. One cause for this care is that the tumor can recur, even after treatment for premature stage disease.
  2. You ought to see your surgeon regularly after treatment.
  3. If you are taking mitotane, your schedule with doctor needs to be more frequent so as to see its levels in your blood.
  4. Consequently, you will want to take hormone substitution tablets to defend yourself against lack of cortisol.
  5. CT scans may be done occasionally to check if the tumor is ongoing to grow or not.