(Cancer of the Adrenal Cortex; Adrenal Cortical Carcinoma; Adrenal Cancer)
DefinitionAdrenocortical carcinoma is cancer of the adrenal cortex. The adrenal glands are two glands located above each kidney. The glands produce important hormones. These hormones regulate heart rate, blood pressure, and many other vital functions, including response to stress and infection. The adrenal cortex is the outside layer of the two adrenal glands.Cancers of the adrenal cortex are rare. The majority of these tumors produce excess hormones. The excess hormones can change hormonal balance.
|Anatomy of the Adrenal Glands|
|Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.|
CausesThe cause of adrenocortical carcinoma is unknown.
Risk FactorsThere are few known risk factors for cancers of the adrenal cortex. A genetic defect may cause adrenocortical cancer in some children, but the majority of cases are nonhereditary.
SymptomsApproximately 40% of people with adrenocortical carcinoma do not secrete any hormone. These people do not have any specific symptoms. Adrenocortical carcinoma is discovered as part of a physical examination for abdominal pain.Other tumors are hormonally active. Excess hormones may produce symptoms such as:
- Pain in the abdomen, side, and/or back
- Nausea and vomiting
- Unintended weight loss
DiagnosisYou will be asked about your symptoms. A medical and family history will be collected. A physical exam will be done.Your bodily fluids may be tested. This can be done with:
- Blood tests
- Urine tests
- CT scan
- MRI scan
- Positron emission tomography (PET)/CT scan
- Adrenal angiography and/or venography
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