Cancer can affect even small glands like the adrenal glands. Adrenal glands are responsible for the production of hormones like cortisol and aldosterone. These glands are located above the kidneys and have two parts; the cortex and the medulla. Adrenal cancer generally affects the cortex of the adrenal glands. This type of cancerous tumour is rare and can be difficult to diagnose.
Most adrenal cancer symptoms are triggered by excessive production of estrogen and androgen. Symptoms can also be caused by the pressure put on other organs by the tumour. Adrenal cancer symptoms are most easily noticeable in children as this is the stage where the body is changing and developing. Some of these symptoms are:
Symptoms of adrenal cancer in adults include:
Additionally, men with adrenal cancer that causes excessive estrogen production may notice an enlargement of breast tissue and tenderness in the area. Women suffering from excessive androgen production triggered by adrenal cancer may notice their voice deepening and facial hair growth. In most cases, adrenal cancer symptoms in women do not appear until the tumour presses on other organs. This includes symptoms like pain around the tumor, a feeling of fullness in the abdomen and difficulty eating because of this feeling.
The cause of adrenal cancer has not yet been determined, but conditions such as Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, familial adenomatous polyposis and multiple endocrine neoplasia can increase a person’s risk of suffering from this disease. A thorough physical examination and a detailed medical history is required to diagnose this disease. The doctor will also need a blood test and urine test. Additional tests that may be required include:
Adrenal cancer can be cured if diagnosed in its early stages. There are three types of treatment for adrenal cancer; surgery to remove the adrenal gland, chemotherapy and radiation. However, adrenal cancer can recur and hence it is important to schedule and maintain regular check-ups with your doctor.