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Alternative namesTumor - adrenal
DefinitionAdrenocortical carcinoma is a malignant tumor of the adrenal glands .
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Adrenocortical carcinomas can produce the hormones cortisol or aldosterone. The disease is most common in two age groups: children younger than 5 years old, and adults in their 30s and 40s.
Adrenocortical carcinoma may be associated with an inherited cancer syndrome. Both men and women develop this tumor. In women it is more often a functional tumor (secretes hormones).
The cause is unknown. The incidence is about 2 per million.
SymptomsFindings suggestive of increased cortisol production:
Findings suggestive of increased aldosterone production are symptoms of low potassium (weakness, muscle cramps, increased thirst, and urination).
Signs and tests
TreatmentPrimary treatment consists of surgical removal of the tumor . Adrenocortical carcinoma may not respond well to chemotherapy . Medications may be given to reduce production of cortisol which is responsible for many of the symptoms.
Expectations (prognosis)The outcome is dependent on how early the diagnosis is made and whether the tumor has spread (metastasized). Metastatic tumors are often fatal within a few years.
A complication is metastasis (frequently to the liver, bone, and lung).
Calling your health care providerCall your health care provider if you or your child has symptoms of adrenocortical carcinoma, Cushing's syndrome , or failure to grow.
Update Date: 8/18/2003Corey Cutler, M.D., M.P.H., F.R.C.P.C., Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute; Instructor in Medicine, Harvard University, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT