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Adrenal Gland Tumor

What Is an Adrenal Gland Tumor?

Adrenal gland tumors affect the adrenal glands, located above your kidneys. Adrenal glands release hormones that help control your blood sugar and blood pressure and help you manage stress. Tumors or nodules of the adrenal glands are more common over age 45 and are common findings on CT or MRI scans of the abdomen.

Each adrenal gland consists of the cortex and the medulla (center). A tumor can develop in either area:

  • Benign adenomas (noncancerous) – A common type, usually less than 2 inches wide and occurring in one adrenal gland but can occur in both
  • Adrenal cortical carcinomas (cancerous) – Larger and may press on nearby organs, causing varied symptoms
  • Pheochromocytomas – Typically noncancerous but can cause a dangerous increase in hormone (adrenalin) levels

Adrenal gland tumors can start in the adrenal gland or spread from cancer in another part of the body.

Symptoms

Adrenal gland tumor symptoms can vary widely, depending on the cause and type of tumor. Benign adenomas generally do not cause symptoms. However, if they cause you to over-produce hormones, symptoms can include:

  • Weight gain
  • Excess body or facial hair in women
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Elevated blood sugar

Tell your doctor about unusual hormonal symptoms or other changes. Adrenal gland tumor symptoms can include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Acne
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Excessive sweating
  • Headache
  • High blood pressure
  • Low potassium levels
  • Heart palpitations
  • Genitalia changes
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Weight changes
  • Weakness

Pheochromocytoma can cause a dangerous surge in hormones that manage blood pressure and stress. This can raise your risk of heart attack, stroke, hemorrhage or sudden death.

Treatment Options

Temple Health endocrinologists, endocrine surgeons and urologists specialists diagnose and treat adrenal gland tumors. Testing typically includes CT scan or MRI imaging plus blood and urine tests to check hormone production.

Certain cancerous growths or tumors require surgery to remove the affected adrenal gland (adrenalectomy). Most small benign tumors or nodules that do not produce excess hormones can be monitored rather than immediately removed.

Temple Health doctors are skilled in minimally invasive surgical procedures such as laparoscopic or robotic assisted for adrenal tumor treatment. Doctors use sophisticated video technology and precision-guided instruments to operate with tiny cuts. This enables faster healing and less discomfort or scarring.

Other treatments may include medical and radiation therapy, or innovative biologic therapies that use your immune system to boost natural immunity. Certain targeted therapies can find and treat tumors with less damage to nearby tissue.

Ready for an Appointment?

If you're experiencing signs or symptoms of an adrenal gland tumor, schedule an appointment or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536) today.

Learn more about our doctors and care team who diagnose and treat adrenal gland tumors.

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