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Adrenal Cancer

  201-227-6008    |      cancer@holyname.org

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Adrenal cancers occur in the adrenal glands, small glands located on top of the kidneys. Every person has two adrenal glands, which produce hormones to help the body regulate blood pressure and reactions to stress.

Approximately 200 people in the United States are diagnosed each year with adrenal cancer. It most often occurs in children under five or adults in their 40's and 50's. Symptoms are typically caused by hormones made by the tumor.

The Patricia Lynch Cancer Center at Holy Name has a multi-disciplinary team of experienced and skilled urologic oncologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, nurses and support staff to diagnose and treat adrenal cancer. Together they provide a compassionate, unified approach in creating a personal strategy for each patient's unique medical, emotional and lifestyle needs.


  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased blood sugar
  • Heart palpitations
  • Anxiety
  • Low potassium
  • Headache
  • Weight gain
  • Frequent urination

Risk Factors

  • Genetic syndromes
    • Li-Fraumeni
    • Beckwith-Wiedemann
    • MEN 1
    • Familial Adenomatous Polyposis
    • Lynch Syndrome (HNPCC)
  • Smoking


  • Physical exam
  • Blood and urine tests
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • MIBG Scan - similar to a CT scan with a dye injected to locate the tumor
  • Adrenal vein sampling


Adrenal cancers are very curable if diagnosed at an early stage. The treatment generally involves surgery to remove the adrenal gland with the tumor. The remaining adrenal gland is capable of producing all necessary hormones. Sometimes the kidney on the same side where the cancer was found also has to be taken out to ensure that all the cancer has been removed. If so, the remaining kidney is capable of performing all necessary functions. For patients with advanced adrenal cancers, chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be prescribed.