What are adrenal tumors?
Adrenal tumors are tumors on the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are located above the kidneys and have two parts, the adrenal cortex and the adrenal medulla. The adrenal cortex secretes hormones including cortisol and aldosterone. The adrenal medulla produces dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine. There are different types of adrenal tumors, and they can be either cancerous or noncancerous (benign).
The vast majority of adrenal tumors are benign. Most often, they do not cause any symptoms and are discovered as incidental findings on either a CT or MRI done for completely unrelated reasons, such as for evaluation of abdominal pain. As such, they are referred to as adrenal incidentalomas. Aside from categorizing them as noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant), they are categorized as functioning or nonfunctioning. Functioning tumors lead to overproduction of one or more of the normal adrenal hormones.
Are there any risk factors for the development of an adrenal tumor?
The cause of most adrenal tumors is unknown. Some hereditary conditions have been linked to an increased risk of developing an adrenal tumor. The hereditary conditions include:
- Carney complex
- Li-Fraumeni syndrome
- Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2
- Neurofibromatosis type 1
What are signs and symptoms of adrenal tumors?
Several signs and symptoms may be seen, including:
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar levels or diabetes
- Low potassium levels
- Excessive hair growth
- Increased weight or weight loss
- Stretch marks on the abdomen
- Depressed mood
- Anxiety/panic attacks
- Fat deposits on the neck
- Heart palpitations