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Adrenal gland cancer: symptoms, diagnosis and prognosis

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The body has numerous structures that we do not know many times, so we only pay attention to them when a problem appears. The adrenal glands are an obvious example of this. These glands are located in the upper part of each kidney and are responsible for producing various hormones essential for life, such as cortisol or sex hormones while responding to daily stress and other functions they offer the same.

Various alterations can affect them, and adrenal tumors are one of them, so it is essential to undergo frequent medical checks. If you want to know more about this alteration, in the following FastlyHealarticle, we offer you much information about adrenal gland cancer: symptoms, diagnosis, and prognosis.

Symptoms of adrenal gland cancer

The symptoms that appear in people suffering from a malignant adrenal tumor will depend on the area affected by it. If it is located in the adrenal cortex, the most characteristic symptom is the appearance of Cushing’s syndrome, related to an increase in cortisol secretion, so there may be:

  • An increase in the patient’s weight.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Decrease in muscle mass.
  • The appearance of stretch marks in the abdominal area.

It is also possible that primary hyperaldosteronism occurs caused by increased secretion of the hormone aldosterone, whose accumulation in the body increases urinary excretion and causes a great desire to drink water frequently. However, it can also cause muscle disorders such as cramps. To this, there could be an excess of androgens, which would cause excessive hair growth, so in the case of women, it can cause some masculinization.

In the situation where the malignant tumor affects up to the adrenal medulla, the most common symptoms are:

As these signs can refer to other alterations, it is essential to see a doctor for a check-up and verify if it is a malignant neoplasm in the adrenal glands to start treatment immediately.

Malignant tumor of the adrenal glands: diagnosis

While some of the most frequent signs of adrenal gland cancer are present, it is essential to carry out a blood test indicated by the doctor with a dosage of the various hormones. In this way, it would be evident that there is an excess in their secretion.

At the same time, the specialist is likely to recommend that the patient undergo a CT scan or an MRI of the abdomen. However, the latter is usually less frequent to visualize the adrenal tumor. On the other hand, you can also undergo scintigraphy. If a malignant tumor is suspected, the doctor will probably choose to perform some study to find cancer cells that may be migrating to various organs, such as taking a sample tissue. If the result of this is a metastasis, cancer is confirmed.

The prognosis for adrenal gland malignancy

As in most different cancers, the prognosis or the possibility of recovery will depend on several factors, for example:

  • The general health and age of the patient.
  • The stage in which the adrenal tumor is, its size, and if it is only located in one point or has spread to other areas, the lungs, liver, and peritoneum are more frequent.
  • Whether the tumor can be completely removed in surgery.
  • The degree of complexity of the case.

Therefore, if adrenal gland cancer is diagnosed early, the probability that the patient can be cured is very high; however, the risk remains, and health may decline due to the side effects of treatment or the aggressiveness of the malignant tumor. For this reason, it is essential to carry out regular medical checks and adequately follow the specialist’s instructions, achieving a survival more significant than 5 years after diagnosis in 38% to 46% of cases.

Treatment for adrenal gland cancer

The treatment of adrenal gland cancer is the same as that of most malignant tumors, so it will depend on the degree to which it is found, the results of the tests, and the patient’s general health.

The best option in treating malignant neoplasms is still surgery to remove the entire tumor, the nodes affected by cancer, and the surrounding tissues that may be involved in the same way. Also, it is possible to practice chemotherapy and radiotherapy accompanied by the administration of anti-hormonal drugs. However, it is little used in this type of pathology due to side effects and the low survival rate in aggressive cases.

This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor if you present any condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Adrenal gland cancer: symptoms, diagnosis, and prognosis, we recommend that you enter our Kidney and urinary system category.

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