What is Adrenal Gland Cancer? What is the Symptom and Treatment?

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The adrenal gland is located above the kidneys and is a gland that resembles a triangular shape. Cancer is risky and dangerous.

Before meeting with Adrenal Gland Cancer, let’s get to know the adrenal gland.

Adrenal gland are triangular-shaped yellow glands consisting of two parts, the cortex and the medulla, that secrete very important hormones for the maintenance of our body, located in the upper part of both kidneys.

It forms the outer part of the adrenal cortex, from which cortisol, aldosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone hormones are secreted. These hormones regulate metabolism and control body shapes such as hair growth. The adrenal medulla forms its interior and controls the body’s stress-related responses such as dopamine, adrenaline, and noradrenaline.

What is a Surrenal Tumor? What are the Types?

It is a condition caused by the formation of a mass of atypical uncontrolled cells in the adrenal gland. It can be benign or malignant. Adrenal tumors can also be seen externally, as a result of metastasis (spread) of other organs such as lungs and kidneys.

What are the Types of Adrenal Tumors?

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The most common tumor we call adenoma is benign and does not metastasize. These tumors arising from the cortex do not cause symptoms unless they are very large. Usually, an ultrasound or CT scan performed for another reason also occurs. As long as these tumors do not exceed 4 cm, they do not need treatment.

Adrenocortical carcinoma is malignant cancers originating from the cortex. These cancers are sometimes functional and severe symptoms can be seen due to excessive release of hormones.

The tumor called neuroblastoma arises from the adrenal medulla and is usually one of the malignant tumors of childhood. In addition, pheochromocytoma is a functional adrenal medulla tumor and can cause conditions called malignant hypertension.

What are the Symptoms of Adrenal Gland Tumors?

High blood pressure, heart palpitations, irritability, fear, headache, facial redness, moon face, weight gain, excessive sweating, cracks in the skin, sometimes extreme weakness, facial acne increase, sexual desire disorders. There may be serious consequences such as sodium and potassium changes.

How Are Adrenal Gland Tumors Diagnosed?

Non-functional adrenal gland tumors usually occur when the enlarged mass is seen in ultrasonography, MRI or CT while investigating for another reason. Then it is checked whether the tumor is functional or not.

In functional tumors, the patient comes with complaints and symptoms related to excessive release of hormones. A good medical history is obtained from the patient and a detailed physical examination is performed. Then, medicated upper abdominal MRI or CT is performed for surrenal. In addition, blood hormone levels and urine analysis should be done. In functional tumors, help from an endocrinologist should be sought.

What is the Treatment for Adrenal Tumors?

If the tumor diameter is over 4 cm, the adrenal gland and tumor should be surgically removed. If the tumor is functional, drug treatment should be given in coordination with the endocriologist first and surgery should be considered after everything is controlled.

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Surgical treatment can be done laparoscopic / robotic or open. Laparoscopy / robotic surgery is the gold standard in experienced hands in adrenal tumors and is very successful. Of course, open surgery can be applied in very large tumors or those who have undergone previous surgery. Functional tumors should be followed very closely.

Prof. Dr. Abdullah ArmağanUrology Specialist

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