What are Adrenal Tumors?Tumors are simply abnormal "growths" from an organ, and thus an adrenal tumor is an abnormal growth from an adrenal gland.
Adrenal tumors are common. A tumor simply means a mass. This picture shows a classic adrenal tumor growing within the cortex (outer layer) of the triangular-shapped adrenal gland that we removed during a 20-minute Mini-Back Scope Operation. Tumors can be either benign or malignant. In fact, the vast majority of adrenal tumors are benign (not cancer). The older we get the more likely we are to develop an adrenal tumor. In a 20-year-old only about 0.2% of all individuals have an adrenal tumor whereas when we get to 70 years old almost 7% have an in an adrenal tumor. The good news is that over 95% of adrenal tumors are benign.
Do Adrenal Tumors Cause Symptoms and Problems?Even though the overwhelming majority of adrenal tumors are benign, many of them cause significant and often dramatic symptoms because they produce excess adrenal hormones. Adrenal tumors that produce hormones always need to be removed because the excess hormones can cause toxic effects to your body, make you feel miserable and cause early death. Too much adrenal hormones such as aldosterone, cortisol, and catecholamines (epinephrine; adrenaline) can create very damaging effects on the body over the long-term.
Adrenal tumors that make too much hormone are called “functioning” or “endocrine-active” tumors. Aldosterone producing adrenocortical tumors cause primary hyperaldosteronism (also called Conn's Syndrome, whereas cortisol producing adrenocortical tumors cause primary hypercortisolism or Cushing's Syndrome. Catecholamine (epinephrine and adrenaline) producing adrenal tumors cause pheochromocytoma. Any functioning adrenal tumor should be removed by surgery (adrenalectomy).
There are other less common adrenal tumors such as those that are sex-hormone producing, adrenocortical cancer (ACC) and metastasis to the adrenal gland. We have hundreds of pages of information and nearly 1000 photos and graphics to help you and your doctor understand every adrenal problem. Please use the navigation tools or even the "search" button to locate anything you want to know about the adrenal glands.
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