Adrenocortical carcinoma

Alternative Names

Tumor – adrenal

Definition of Adrenocortical carcinoma

Adrenocortical carcinoma is a cancer of the adrenal glands.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Adrenocortical carcinoma is most common in children younger than 5 and adults in their 30s and 40s.


Symptoms that suggest increased cortisol or other adrenal gland hormone production:

Signs and tests

A physical exam may reveal high blood pressure and changes in body shape, such as breast enlargement in men (gynecomastia) or male characteristics in women (virilization). Blood tests will be done to check hormone levels:


Primary treatment is surgery to remove the tumor. Adrenocortical carcinoma may not improve with . Medications may be given to reduce production of cortisol, which causes many of the symptoms.

Expectations (prognosis)

The outcome depends on how early the diagnosis is made and whether the tumor has spread (metastasized). Tumors that have spread usually lead to death within 1 to 3 years.


David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 8/14/2010

Endocrine glands
Adrenal metastases, CT scan
Adrenal Tumor - CT

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