Adrenal cancer is a rare form of cancer that occurs due to abnormal and uncontrolled cell growth in the adrenal glands (small glands that sit above each kidney). There are three different types of adrenal cancer which vary by location and the age at which they are often diagnosed:
- Adrenocortical carcinoma - The most common type of adrenal cancer which develops in the adrenal cortex (the outer part of the adrenal gland)
- Neuroblastoma - A childhood cancer that begins in the adrenal medulla (the inner part of the adrenal gland)
- Pheochromocytoma - A neuroendocrine tumor that begins in the adrenal medulla
The signs and symptoms associated with the condition largely depend on if the cancer is 'functioning' (producing hormones) or 'nonfunctioning' (not producing hormones) and which hormones are present in excess. In most cases, the underlying cause of the condition is unknown. However, certain genetic conditions such as multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, neurofibromatosis type I, and Carney complex are associated with an increased risk of developing adrenal tumors and cancer. Treatment may include a combination of surgery, hormone therapy, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.