A Part of the University of Maryland Medical Center

Connect with UMGCC
Facebook Twitter YouTube Blog iPhone
Email PageEmail page Print PagePrint page

Adrenocortical Carcinoma Treatment

General Information About Adrenocortical Carcinoma

Adrenocortical carcinoma is a rare disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the outer layer of the adrenal gland.

There are two adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are small and shaped like a triangle. One adrenal gland sits on top of each kidney. Each adrenal gland has two parts. The outer layer of the adrenal gland is the adrenal cortex. The center of the adrenal gland is the adrenal medulla.

The adrenal cortex makes important hormones that:

The adrenal medulla makes hormones that help the body react to stress.

Adrenocortical carcinoma is also called cancer of the adrenal cortex. A tumor of the adrenal cortex may be functioning (makes more hormones than normal) or nonfunctioning (does not make hormones). The hormones made by functioning tumors may cause certain signs or symptoms of disease.

Cancer that forms in the adrenal medulla is called pheochromocytoma.

Having certain genetic conditions increases the risk of developing adrenocortical carcinoma.

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. People who think they may be at risk should discuss this with their doctor. Risk factors for adrenocortical carcinoma include having the following hereditary diseases:

Possible signs of adrenocortical carcinoma include pain in the abdomen and certain physical changes.

These and other symptoms may be caused by adrenocortical carcinoma:

A nonfunctioning adrenocortical tumor may not cause symptoms in the early stages.

A functioning adrenocortical tumor makes too much of a certain hormone (cortisol, aldosterone, testosterone, or estrogen).

Too much cortisol may cause:

Too much aldosterone may cause:

Too much testosterone (in women) may cause:

Men who make too much testosterone do not usually have symptoms.

Too much estrogen (in women) may cause:

Too much estrogen (in men) may cause:

These and other symptoms may be caused by adrenocortical carcinoma. Other conditions may cause the same symptoms. A doctor should be consulted if any of these problems occur.

Imaging studies and tests that examine the blood and urine are used to detect (find) and diagnose adrenocortical carcinoma.

The tests and procedures used to diagnose adrenocortical carcinoma depend on the patient's symptoms. The following tests and procedures may be used:

Certain factors affect the prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.

The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following:

Adrenocortical carcinoma may be cured if treated at an early stage.