Adrenal cancer is the form of cancer that affects one of the two, or both, adrenal glands. This usually causes abnormal growth of cells to occur in the outer layer of the gland, known as adrenal cortex. This cancer can originate in the adrenal gland area or it can be spread from a cancer in another part of the body.
Cancerous tumor in the adrenal gland is also known as Adrenal Carcinoma. A non-cancerous growth in the adrenal gland is known as benign adenoma. These are usually small in size (less than 2 inches) and mostly show no form of symptoms. These most often affect one of the adrenal glands, and also both the glands in rare cases.
Adrenal cortical carcinoma is comparatively larger than benign adenomas. It can become cancerous if it grows more than 2 inches in width. These can also become large enough to cause pressure in the internal organs and cause additional symptoms due to this. These tumors affecting the adrenal gland also results in its malfunction, specifically in the uncontrolled production of certain hormones that can affect the body as well.
Majority of the signs and symptoms from adrenal cancer are as a result of excess production of the hormones - estrogen and androgen. Symptoms may also be seen as a result of the tumor pressing against the internal organs.
Some of the clearly seen signs and symptoms of adrenal cancer in children are:
Adrenal cancer is women might not exhibit visible signs until the tumor might be pressing against an internal organ. Women with tumor causing excessive production of estrogen may experience deepening of voice and facial hair growth.
If the adrenal cancer affects men and causes excessive production of estrogen they may feel an enlargement of breasts as well as noticeable tenderness in them.
Some other common signs and symptoms of adrenal cancer include:
Although, the exact cause for the development of adrenal cancer is not known, there are certain identifiable risk factors that are known to increase the chances of a person developing adrenal cancer, such as:
Adrenal cancer is initially diagnosed with the help of the patient's medical history as well as a thorough physical examination. It might also include collecting blood and urine samples for testing.
The doctor may also advise certain other diagnostic tests in order to confirm the diagnosis of the suspected adrenal cancer as well as to attain further information (size, location, spread, etc) about the tumor for better plan of treatment.
These are the other diagnostic tests:
Adrenal cancer requires early detection and treatment for successful removal and relief from its symptoms.
These are the various methods of treatment used for adrenal cancer treatment:
An adrenalectomy procedure may be advised initially by the doctor for removal of the cancerous adrenal gland. In case the cancer has metastasized (spread) to other parts of the body then the surgeon might require removing the nearby lymph nodes as well as the surrounding healthy tissues.
In radiotherapy, also called as radiation therapy, the surgeon will use high-energy beams of precisely targeted radiation (such as x-ray or proton) to attack the tumor in the adrenal glands in order to destroy it. This also makes the surrounding tissue inhabitable for the cancerous cells to develop in the future (recurrence).
In this adrenal cancer treatment method, the doctor might use specially-designed medicinal drugs that target the growth ability of the tumorous cells directly. This helps to stop further growth of the tumor as well as shrink its size with continued therapy. This technique may either use the oral or intravenous method for administering the medicinal drugs.
Chemotherapy may also be used as palliative care for shrinking a larger-sized tumor in the adrenal gland so as to make it possible and safe to be removed using surgical methods.
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