What is it?

Adrenal cancer or adrenal cortical carcinoma is a primary cancer in one or two adrenal glands. Usually, it occurs in the cortex, which is the outermost layer. It is most common in children younger than 5 and adults in age 40-50. Risk factors for adrenal cancer are syndromes such as Lynch, MEN1, Li-Fraumeni, Beckwith- Wiedemann and Carney complex. Symptoms result from excess production of hormones such as androgen, estrogen, cortisol and aldosterone. In children, it is easier to detect because of the visible physical changes. Many times, though, the symptoms appear only when the tumor is very large.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Malignant neuroblastoma

Signs & symptoms

Symptoms of adrenal cancer may include weight gain, muscle weakness, stretch marks, hair loss, excess facial hair in women, enlarged breast tissue in men, nausea, vomiting, abdominal bloating, back pain, fever, loss of appetite or weight loss.


Diagnosis of adrenal cancer, when suspected, can be done by urine and blood tests that will show increased levels of hormones produced by the adrenal gland. CT, MRI or a PET-CT can show the tumor and metastases. For a definite diagnosis, a biopsy can be taken from the suspected area.


Treatment of adrenal cancer usually involves a surgery to remove the entire adrenal gland and sometimes other organs in which the tumor invaded. After surgery, a medication called Mitotane may be recommended in people with a high recurrence risk. Radiation therapy is also sometimes recommended as further treatment. Chemotherapy is usually given when the tumor can’t be removed with surgery, to slow the disease progression or if the disease returns.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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