Adrenal carcinoma (patient information)
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What are the symptoms of Adrenal carcinoma?
- Symptoms that suggest increased cortisol or other adrenal gland hormone production:
- Fatty, rounded hump high on the back just below the neck (buffalo hump)
- Flushed rounded face with pudgy cheeks (moon face)
- Stunted growth in height (short stature)
- Virilization - the appearance of male characteristics, including increased body hair (especially on the face), pubic hair, acne, deepening of voice, and enlarged clitoris (girls)
- Symptoms that suggest increased aldosterone production are the same as symptoms of low potassium and include:
What causes Adrenal carcinoma?
- Adrenocortical carcinoma is most common in children younger than 5 and adults in their 30s and 40s.
- Adrenocortical carcinoma may be linked to a cancer syndrome that is passed down through families (inherited).
- Both men and women can develop this tumor.
- Adrenocortical carcinoma can produce the hormones cortisol, aldosterone, estrogen, or testosterone, as well as other hormones.
- In women, the tumor often releases these hormones, which can lead to male characteristics.
- The cause is unknown.
- About 2 people per million develop this type of tumor.
- A physical exam may reveal:
- Blood tests will be done to check hormone levels:
When to seek urgent medical care?
- Call your health care provider if you or your child has symptoms of adrenocortical carcinoma, Cushing syndrome, or failure to grow.
- Primary treatment is surgery to remove the tumor.
- Adrenocortical carcinoma may not improve with chemotherapy.
- Medications may be given to reduce production of cortisol, which causes many of the symptoms.
What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?
- The outcome depends on how early the diagnosis is made and whether the tumor has spread (metastasized).
- Tumors that have spread usually lead to death within 1 to 3 years.