The adrenal glands, a part of the endocrine system, are yellowish-orange colored small glands found just above the kidneys which play a vital role in protecting the body against stress by secretion of a number of various hormones. The outer part of the adrenal gland also called the adrenal cortex produces steroid hormones. While, the inner part of the adrenal gland is called the adrenal medulla which produces hormones called catecholamines such as adrenaline and noradrenaline. Catecholamines are vital in the response to acute or sudden severe stress, eg: life threatening event.
Adrenal tumor refers to several benign and malignant neoplasms of the adrenal gland having tendency to overproduce endocrine hormones. Adrenal tumors are very rare and are also called as endocrine tumors.
- Some commonly known causes that makes an individual more susceptible to kidney cancer.
- Multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN1 /2).
- Li-Fraumeni syndrome.
- Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome.
- Type 1 Neurofibromatosis.
- Carney Complex.
- Previous occurence of adrenal tumor.
When to approach your doctor?:
- High blood pressure
- Low potassium level.
- Heart palpitations.
- Low energy levels.
- Feelings of anxiety or panic attacks.
- Change in libido.
- Excessive perspiration.
- Blood pressure shoots.
- Increased risk of hamorrage, stroke, heart attack or death.
- Abdominal pain
- Sudden fluctuations in the weight.
- Abdominal stretch marks.
- Excessive hair growth.
Adrenal Tumor Diagnosis:
- Blood test.
- Urine test.
- Abdominal ultrasound.
- CT scan.
- MRI scan.
- MIBG scan.
Types of Adrenal Tumor:
- Benign tumors in cortex: Adrenal cortical adenomas.
- Malignant tumors of cortex: Adrenal cortical carcinoma.
- Tumor in the medulla: Paheochromocytoma.
- Tumor just outside the medulla: Extra-adrenal phaeochromocytoma.
Doctors assign the stage of the cancer by combining the T (Tumor), N (Node), and M (Metasis) classifications.
Stage I: Tumor less than equal to 5 cm or less limited to the adrenal gland.
Stage II: Tumor larger than 5 cm limited to the adrenal gland.
Stage III: Tumor spread beyond the adrenal gland to the regional lymphs nodes but not to other organs/ body parts.
Stage IV: Tumor spread beyond the adrenal gland to:
1) Area around the adrenal gland but not to nearby organs.
2) Regional lymph nodes but not to other body parts.
3) Nearby organs but not to the lymph nodes or other body parts.
4) Other parts of the body.
Recurrent: Recurrent cancer is cancer that has come back after treatment. If there is a recurrence, the cancer may need to be staged again (called re-staging) using the system above.
Regular follow-up with your is utmost important post-treatment.
Adrenal Tumor Treatment:
- Medication to lower blood pressure.
- Hormone therapy.
- Radiation therapy.
- Radionuclide therapy.
- Surgery for advance stage: Adrenalectomy/ Laproscopy.
- Nutritional & mind-body healing, etc.
- Relaxation therapy.
- Other palliative techniques.
At all above stages, treatments are finalized taking into consideration the overall health, severity, age and other ailments of the patient.