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Adrenal Cancer - What Are The Symptoms?

Written and reviewed by
Diploma in Diabetology
Diabetologist, Mumbai  •  10years experience
Adrenal Cancer - What Are The Symptoms?

Adrenal cancer is a rare and aggressive disease that causes abnormal cell growth inside the adrenal cortex. This cancer usually appears as tumors at the outermost layer of the adrenal glands and gradually develops cancerous cells. In the majority of the cases, adrenal cancer is diagnosed only after it has been growing for several years.

While most of the adrenal cancer patients have the common symptoms, often some people feel just fine, unless until their doctors find the presence of cancerous cells in the adrenal cortex through CT scan. Generally, the symptoms of this life-threatening disease depend on three factors, which are:

  1. The particular type of overproduced hormone
  2. The tumor producing hormones excessively
  3. And, type of the tumor

However, it is the overproduction of particular hormones, that makes the majority of the symptoms visible. Below are the common symptoms of adrenal cancer, depending on hormone types that are overproduced during the presence of this disease.

Symptoms of cortisol overproduction
When the presence of adrenal cancer leads to excess production of the cortisol hormone, people start experiencing different types of symptoms. The accumulation of fat behind the shoulders and neck, gradual weight gain in the stomach and chest portions irregular periods, and hair growth on the chest, face and back (in women) are the most prominent ones. One can also suffer from depression, weakness in legs, and easy bruising as other signs of cortisol overproduction.

Symptoms of aldosterone overproduction

As a result of the overproduction of the aldosterone hormone, people generally have feelings of excessive thirst, feelings of tiredness and weakness and sometimes high blood pressure. The desire of urinating frequently and painful muscle cramps too become evident due to the excessive production of aldosterone.

Symptoms of testosterone overproduction
When as a result of malignant tumors in the adrenal cortex the production of the testosterone hormone goes to higher than normal levels, it is considered to be overproduction. The voice becoming deeper, excessive invasion of acnes, irregular periods become prominently visible symptoms of this kind of adrenal cancer. Even, excessive growth of body hair or the facial hair and heightened muscle mass are some of its common symptoms.

Symptoms of estrogen overproduction
The growth of the breast in males and the early puberty in females are the most common symptoms of adrenal cancer where the malignant tumors overly produce estrogen hormone. Even decreased sex drive or impotence in males can be considered as its other serious symptoms.

Apart from the above mentioned adrenal cancer symptoms, in some cases, the adrenal tumors become so big that they start pressing the nearby organs which leads to signs of abdominal pain or feelings of fullness in the belly. The moment one identifies having any one of the signs discussed here, he or she should look for medical attention immediately. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult an Endocrinologist.

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