Get started

Please fill in the form below and an Ezra representative will contact you within 1 business day.

Notify me

Please fill in the form below and we will be in touch when we launch in your city.

Adrenal Cancer

Adrenal cancers are a rare type of cancer, with approximately 200 new cases diagnosed in America each year.

Adrenal cancers are a rare type of cancer, with approximately 200 new cases diagnosed in America each year.

Overview

The average age of diagnosis for adrenal cancers is about 46. Adrenal tumors are found in approximately 10% of individuals who undergo an imaging test such as an MRI, but most of them are found to be benign–or harmless 1https://www.cancer.org/cancer/adrenal-cancer/about/key-statistics.html.

If your doctor suspects you have adrenal cancer, they will likely recommend you undergo an imaging test, such as a CT scan or MRI, the former of which exposes you to potentially harmful radiation2https://www.fda.gov/radiation-emitting-products/medical-x-ray-imaging/what-are-radiation-risks-ct

Symptoms

For about 50% of individuals with adrenal cancer, symptoms could originate from hormones produced by the tumor in question:

  • If the tumor secretes estrogens, it will likely be easier to identify symptoms in men, who could experience impotence, loss of sex drive, and enlarged, tender breasts.
  • If the tumor secretes androgens, it may be difficult for men to notice symptoms, but women could notice: a receding hairline, a deeper voice, irregular menstrual periods, and excessive body and facial hair growth.
  • If the tumor secretes aldosterone, it could cause weakness, low blood-potassium, high blood pressure, and muscle cramps.
  • If the tumor secretes cortisol, it can cause a condition known as Cushing syndrome. Symptoms of this involve: depression and/or moodiness, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, high blood-sugar levels, easy bruising, excessive hair growth on the chest, back, and face in women, purple stretch marks on the abdomen, irregular menstruation, fat deposits behind the shoulders and neck, and weight gain around the abdomen, above the collarbone, and in the cheeks.

For the other 50%, symptoms present because the tumor has become so big that it presses on organs nearby. Signs could include:

  • Feeling full easily
  • Pain near the tumor
  • Feeling full in the abdomen

If you are having any of the above symptoms you need to talk to a doctor about the appropriate diagnostic work up.

(Source)

Causes

It is difficult for researchers to pinpoint precisely what causes adrenal cancer, though they do know that adrenal cancer originates in genetic changes, or mutations, found in the DNA of normal adrenal cells. Sometimes, these mutations can occur in oncogenes or tumor suppressor genes, which are the genes in charge of when cells grow, divide, or die. Such mutations can be at least in part responsible for cancer and can be inherited from one’s parents or picked up randomly during one’s life3https://www.cancer.org/cancer/brain-spinal-cord-tumors-adults/causes-risks-prevention/what-causes.html

Inherited genetic mutations are associated with up to 15% of adrenal cancers. Some genetic syndromes associated with an increased risk are:

  • Li-Fraumeni syndrome. Mutations in the TP53 gene often cause Li-Fraumeni syndrome, which increases people’s risk of developing many types of cancer, including breast, brain, bone, and adrenal cortex.
  • Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). People suffering from this syndrome develop hundreds of polyps in their large intestine, which will result in colon cancer if the colon isn’t removed. FAP may also increase people’s risk of adrenal tumors, both benign and malignant.
  • Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome. People with this syndrome have a higher risk of developing kidney, adrenal cortex, and liver cancers.
  • Lynch syndrome and hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer. This disorder increases people’s risk of developing stomach, colorectal, and adrenal cortex cancer.

(Source)

Detection

If your doctor suspects you have adrenal cancer, their first steps will likely involve a thorough abdominal exam for evidence of a mass, as well as blood and urine analyses to look for high levels of hormones made by common adrenal tumors. If your doctor thinks you have an adrenal tumor, they will likely perform a CT scan, PET scan, ultrasound, or MRI4https://www.cancer.org/cancer/adrenal-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/how-diagnosed.html. A 2016 study, however, showed that MRI with chemical shift imaging were more effective in differentiating adrenocortical adenomas from other adrenal lesions than CT scans5https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26849154.

If you have adrenal cancer, your chance of surviving at least five years increases by about 37% if you catch it early6https://www.cancer.org/cancer/adrenal-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/survival-by-stage.html. This makes early detection your best bet for fighting the disease.

Diagnosis

If your doctor finds a tumor on the adrenal glands, they will likely not recommend performing a biopsy because it can increase the risk of the cancer spreading elsewhere; instead, patients will generally go straight to surgery for tumor removal. However, if the cancer has metastasized to another body part, a biopsy may be taken to see if the tumors are due to the adrenal cancer or originated from another cancer or disease7https://www.cancer.org/cancer/adrenal-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/how-diagnosed.html. 

Your doctor will, however, likely perform more tests–such as physical exams and imaging tests, as well as analyzing surgical results–in order to assign a stage for your cancer, which can help inform your treatment plan. Adrenal cancer is often graded based on the TNM system:

  • T is for tumor: has the tumor spread?
  • N is for lymph nodes: has the tumor spread to any nearby lymph nodes?
  • M is for metastasis: has the cancer metastasized to distant body parts?

(Source)

Treatment

The best treatment for adrenal cancer depends on the nature of the disease and how far it has spread. Treatment options may include radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy8https://www.cancer.org/cancer/adrenal-cancer/treating.html.

Please consult with a physician on treatment options as necessary.

A plan for everyone.

We offer multiple pricing plans to ensure everyone can benefit from the Ezra cancer screening solutions.

View our pricing plans