Adrenal glands are located on the top of each kidney. These glands are responsible for producing various important hormones for our body that helps in regulating various functions such as Water and salt levels in the body, Blood pressure, Body’s use of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, Maintaining masculine or feminine characteristics. Let’s learn about Adrenal Gland Cancer, Causes, and Adrenal Gland Cancer Symptoms.
It is estimated that approximately 300 adults are diagnosed each year with adrenal gland cancer. Even it mainly occurs in adults, children can be affected, too.
The median age at diagnosis is 46 years.
Adrenal Gland Cancers, early detection with the help of proper test and by minutely watching adrenal gland cancer symptoms may help to get better treatment.
This Article Contains
- What is Adrenal Gland Cancer
- Causes of Adrenal Gland Cancer
- Risk Factors
- Adrenal Gland Cancer Symptoms
- Adrenal Gland Cancer Detection Methods
- Prevention and Management
- Points to Remember
Causes of Adrenal Gland Cancer
The exact cause of adrenal gland cancer is unknown. There is the change in DNA (the genetic material) and cells of adrenal gland become cancerous.
Other causes include genetic syndromes such as:
- Li-Fraumeni syndrome is a rare condition which is caused by a defect in theTP53gene
- Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome in this People have large tongues and have an increased risk for developing other cancers of the kidney, liver, and adrenal cortex.
Factors that increase the risk of adrenal gland cancer are:
- Family history- Due to genetic factors, the disease may pass from parents to the next generation
- Smoking – Heavy smokers are at an increased risk of developing adrenal cancer
- Age – Adrenal cancer is predominantly seen in children or in adults around 40 to 50 years old
- High-fat diet
- Exposure to cancer-causing substances in the environment has a great impact on a person’s risk of developing adrenal gland cancer
- Sedentary lifestyle
Adrenal Gland Cancer Symptoms
There are numerous symptoms of adrenal gland cancer. These are:
- Excessive hair growth (pubic, underarm, and facial)
- Enlarged penis
- Enlarged clitoris
- Large breasts in boys
- Early puberty in girls
- Raised blood pressure
- Heart Palpitations
- Frequent urination
- Muscle cramps
- Weight gain that is more noticeable in the trunk of the body
- Unusual acne
- Fat accumulation in the base of the neck (known as a buffalo hump)
- Swelling of the face giving a moon face appearance
- Mild diabetes
Individual symptoms do not prove anything there should be a combination of symptoms and associated risk factors to suspect any diagnosis.
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- Physical exam and history- Doctor checks for lumps or anything unusual
- Twenty-four-hour urine test- A test in which urine is collected for 24 hours to measure the amounts of cortisol or 17-ketosteroids. A higher than normal amount of these in the urine may be a sign of disease in the adrenal cortex.
- Low-dose dexamethasone suppression test- A test in which one or more small doses of dexamethasone is given. The level of cortisol is checked from a sample of blood or from urine that is collected for three days.
- High-dose dexamethasone suppression test- A test in which one or more high doses of dexamethasone is given. The level of cortisol is checked from a sample of blood or from urine that is collected for three days.
- Blood chemistry study- A procedure in which a blood sample is checked to measure the amounts of certain substances, such as potassium or sodium, released into the blood by organs and tissues in the body. An unusual (higher or lower than normal) amount of a substance can be a sign of disease
- Blood hormone tests- Tests to measure the levels of testosterone or estrogen in the blood. A higher than normal amount of these hormones that may be a sign of adrenocortical carcinoma.
- CT scan (computerized tomography scan)- A procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body, taken from different angles. The pictures are made by a computer linked to an x-ray machine. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the organs or tissues show up more clearly. This procedure is also called computed tomography, computerized tomography, or computerized axial tomography.
- MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)- A procedure that uses a magnet, radio waves, and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. This procedure is also called nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI). An MRI of the abdomen is done to diagnose adrenocortical carcinoma.
- Adrenal angiography- A procedure to look at the arteries and the flow of blood near the adrenal gland. A contrast dye is injected into the adrenal arteries. As the dye moves through the blood vessel, a series of x-rays are taken to see if any arteries are blocked.
- Adrenal venography- A procedure to look at the adrenal veins and the flow of blood near the adrenal gland. A contrast dye is injected into an adrenal vein. As the contrast dye moves through the vein, a series of x-rays are taken to see if any veins are blocked.
- PET scan (positron emission tomography scan)- A procedure to find malignant tumor cells in the body. A small amount of radioactive glucose (sugar) is injected into a vein. The PET scanner rotates around the body and makes a picture of where glucose is being used in the body. Malignant tumor cells show up brighter in the picture because they are more active and take up more glucose than normal cells do.
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Prevention & Management
There is no such established preventive method to lower the risk of developing adrenal gland cancer.
- Hormone therapy
- Radiation therapy
- Surgery/ Surgical removal of the affected organ
About 60 to 70% of patients have stage III or IV diseases at the time of diagnosis. The 5-year survival refers to the percent of patients on average who are alive after their diagnosis.
Points to Remember
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Walk and exercise regularly
- Imaging scan, blood/ urine test must be done every year as suggested by the doctor