Everyone has 2 adrenal glands. One is on top of each kidney. The body has 2 kidneys. The adrenal glands are little, yellowish in color, and typically weigh about 10 grams. These glands are important to the body’s endocrine system. The endocrine system is made up of tissues and organs that produce hormonal agents. Hormones are chemical compounds that are finished the bloodstream to have a specific impact on the activity of other organs or cells in the body.
Each adrenal gland has 2 primary parts that function independently:
Adrenal cortex. The outer part of the adrenal gland is called the cortex. The adrenal cortex makes 3 primary hormonal agents: cortisol, aldosterone, and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). These hormones thoroughly manage metabolic process, high blood pressure, and body features, such as hair growth and body shape.
Adrenal medulla. The inner part of the adrenal glands is called the medulla. The adrenal medulla makes 3 hormonal agents: epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine. These hormones, often called catecholamines, manage the body’s responses to stress, consisting of the “fight or flight” adrenaline surge.
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About the Adrenal Glands
A growth starts when healthy cells change and grow out of control, forming a mass. A tumor can be cancerous or benign. A malignant growth is deadly, implying it can grow and spread to other parts of the body. A benign growth indicates the tumor can grow however will not spread.
An adrenal gland growth can sometimes produce excessive of a hormonal agent. When it does, the tumor is called a “working tumor.” An adrenal gland growth that does not produce hormonal agents is called a “nonfunctioning growth.” The symptoms and treatment of an adrenal gland tumor depend upon:
- Whether the tumor is working or nonfunctioning
- Which hormone( s) is produced in excess
- Whether the growth started in the adrenal gland or spread from another organ
Functional adrenal gland tumors might produce any hormonal agent made in the adrenal gland. In rare cases, they may produce more than 1 hormone.
This section concentrates on main adrenal gland growths. A main adrenal gland growth starts in an adrenal gland. An adrenal gland growth might likewise arise from a cancer that started in another organ, such as the lungs, and after that infected the adrenal gland through a procedure called metastasis. Main adrenal gland tumors include the following:
- Adenoma. This is the most typical kind of adrenal gland tumor. It is a noncancerous, nonfunctioning growth of the adrenal cortex. An adenoma generally does not cause symptoms and, if it is little, typically does not require treatment. Adenoma is also called an adrenocortical adenoma,
- Adrenocortical carcinoma. Adrenocortical carcinoma is uncommon. Nevertheless, it is the most typical type of malignant adrenal gland growth. It is also known as adrenal cortical carcinoma. Approximately 4 to 12 out of 1 million people develop this kind of tumor, which starts in the adrenal cortex. Adrenocortical carcinoma can be an operating or nonfunctioning growth. If the growth is operating, it might produce more than 1 hormone.
- Neuroblastoma. This is a kind of childhood cancer that can start in the adrenal medulla.
- Pheochromocytoma. This type of neuroendocrine tumor most often starts in the adrenal medulla.
Symptoms and Signs of Adrenal Gland Cancer
People with an adrenal gland growth might experience the following symptoms or signs. In some cases, people with an adrenal gland growth do not have any of these modifications. Or, the cause of a symptom might be another medical condition that is not a growth.
- High blood pressure
- Low potassium level
- Heart palpitations
- Sensations of anxiety or panic attacks
- Extreme perspiration
- Abdominal pain
- Unexplained weight gain or weight loss
- Abdominal stretch marks
- Excessive hair growth
- Changes in genitalia
- Uncommon acne
- Change in libido (libido).
In addition, pheochromocytoma may cause hazardous surges of the hormonal agents that manage blood pressure and the body’s response to stress. A hormone surge can cause high blood pressure to rise extremely quickly, increasing the risk of a heart attack, stroke, hemorrhage, or abrupt death.
If you are concerned about any modifications you experience, please talk with your doctor. Your doctor will ask the length of time and how typically you’ve been experiencing the symptom( s), in addition to other concerns. This is to assist learn the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis.
If a tumor is detected, relieving symptoms remains an important part of medical care and treatment. This may likewise be called symptom management, palliative care, or helpful care. Make certain to talk with your healthcare team about symptoms you experience, consisting of any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.
Adrenal Gland Cancer Stages
Staging is a way of explaining where the tumor lies, if it is cancerous, if or where it has actually spread out, and whether it is affecting other parts of the body.
Doctors use numerous diagnostic tests to learn the growth’s stage. Staging may not be complete till all of the tests, and even the surgical elimination of the tumor or adrenal gland, are completed. Knowing the stage helps the doctor to choose what sort of treatment is best and can assist anticipate a patient’s diagnosis, which is the opportunity of recovery. There are different stage descriptions for different types of tumors.
TNM Staging System
One tool that medical professionals use to describe the stage of a growth is the TNM system. Medical professionals use the results from diagnostic tests and scans to answer these concerns:
Tumor (T): How large is the primary growth? Where is it situated?
Node (N): Has the tumor spread to the lymph nodes? If so, where and the number of?
Metastasis (M): Has the cancer metastasized to other parts of the body? If so, where and how much?
The outcomes are combined to figure out the stage of cancer for each person. This area covers the standard staging system for adrenocortical carcinoma, which includes 4 stages: stages I through IV (one through four). The stage supplies a typical way of explaining the cancer, so doctors can collaborate to prepare the best treatments.
Here are more information on each part of the TNM system for adrenocortical carcinoma.
Using the TNM system, the “T” plus a letter or number (0 to 4) is used to explain the size and area of the growth. Some stages are also divided into smaller groups that assist describe the tumor in much more detail. Specific tumor stage details is listed below.
TX: The primary growth can not be assessed.
T0: There is no primary growth.
T1: The growth is 5 centimeters (cm) or less and has actually not grown outside the adrenal gland.
T2: The growth is bigger than 5 cm and has actually not grown outside the adrenal gland.
T3: The tumor can be any size. It has actually turned into the area around the adrenal gland but has actually not spread to close-by organs.
T4: The tumor is any size and has become any of the following:
- Close-by tissues or organs, such as the kidney.
- The thin muscle under the lungs and heart that separates the chest from the abdomen, called the diaphragm.
- Bigger capillary, such as the aorta and the vena cava.
The “N” in the TNM staging system means lymph nodes. These tiny, bean-shaped organs help fight infection. Lymph nodes are discovered all over the body. Lymph nodes near where the tumor started are called regional lymph nodes. Lymph nodes in other parts of the body are called far-off lymph nodes.
NX: The regional lymph nodes can not be examined.
N0 (N plus no): The cancer has actually not spread to the regional lymph nodes.
N1: The cancer has spread to the regional lymph nodes.
The “M” in the TNM system shows whether the cancer has actually spread to other parts of the body, called far-off transition.
M0 (M plus absolutely no): The cancer has actually not spread to other parts of the body.
M1: The cancer has actually infected other parts of the body beyond the close-by organs.
Cancer Stage Grouping
Physicians appoint the stage of the cancer by integrating the T, N, and M details to state what stage the cancer is.
Stage I: The growth is 5 cm or smaller and has actually not grown beyond the adrenal gland. It has not spread to the regional lymph nodes or to other parts of the body (T1, N0, M0).
Stage II: The tumor is bigger than 5 cm. It has actually not grown beyond the adrenal gland or spread to regional lymph nodes or other parts of the body (T2, N0, M0).
Stage III: The growth is described by the following:
- It is 5 cm or smaller sized and has actually spread to the regional lymph nodes but not to other parts of the body (T1, N1, M0).
- It is bigger than 5 cm and has infected the local lymph nodes but not to other parts of the body (T2, N1, M0).
- It is any size and has grown beyond the adrenal gland but not to close-by organs (T3, N0, M0).
Stage IV: The growth is explained by the following:
It is any size and has turned into the area around the adrenal gland however not to nearby organs. The growth has spread to local lymph nodes but not to other parts of the body (T3, N1, M0).
It is any size and has actually infected nearby organs however not to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body beyond the neighboring organs (T4, N0, M0).
It is any size and has actually spread to nearby organs. The tumor has spread to the regional lymph nodes however not to other parts of the body beyond the close-by organs (T4, N1, M0).
The tumor has actually infected other parts of the body (any T, any N, M1).
Recurrent: Recurrent cancer is cancer that has come back after treatment. If the cancer does return, there will be another round of tests to discover the extent of the recurrence. These tests and scans are frequently much like those done at the time of the initial diagnosis.