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Adrenal Gland

By Anonymous October 27, 2011 - 8:58am
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I went into the emergency room because my gallbladder was hurting me really bad. The ER did a CT Scan and came into the room and told me I have a Tumor on my left Adrenal Gland.I have had blood in my urine since about Jan. I can see it sometimes and other times was in a test. I am trying to find a Dr to go to ( I don't have insurance) but the research I have done on this is saying Do Not do a Biopsy, if you can't do a biopsy then how do you find out if it is cancerous or not? Cancer is in my family on both sides. My Dad passed at 45 from Kidney Cancer.

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HERWriter Guide

Hi Anon

Thank you for your question and I am sorry you're facing these health challenges at the moment.

Since you have a family history of kidney cancer, it's wise to stay on top of this, and it's good to see you are.

Where did you read that a biopsy of the adrenal gland should never be done? I have no information on that. Could you let us know where you read it?

For adrenal cancer, diagnosis includes:

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, and medical and family history. A physical exam will be done.

Tests may include the following:
■Blood tests to look for hormones from the adrenal glands
■Urine tests (24 hour cortisol)
■CT scan of the abdomen—a type of x-ray that uses a computer to make pictures of structures inside the abdomen
■MRI of the abdomen—a test that uses magnetic waves to make pictures of structures inside the abdomen
■PET scan—a test that uses radioactive glucose to identify the location of tumors in the body
■Adrenal angiography and/or venography—tests that use contrast dye to help confirm the presence of tumors that may be blocking blood vessels; a blood sample may be obtained to check hormone levels
■X-ray—a test that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the body

Once cancer of the adrenal cortex is confirmed, you will be referred to an oncologist. This type of doctor focuses on cancer.

Further testing to determine what stage (1-4) the cancer has reached. The stage of a tumor is determined by its size and how far it has spread from its point of origin. At the time of diagnosis, 30%-85% of patients are found to have cancer that has spread. The higher the stage, the more dangerous and difficult it is to treat.

Anon, do you have any symptoms at the moment? Here are some symptoms of adrenal cancer:
Approximately 40% of adrenocortical carcinoma do not secrete any hormone. These do not have any specific symptoms. They are discovered either by accident or as part of an evaluation of abdominal pain.

Other tumors are functional. This means are hormonally active. Excess hormones may produce symptoms such as:
■High blood pressure
■Weakening of the bones
Other conditions that may result from functional tumors of the adrenal cortex include: ■Cushing’s syndrome (Hypercortisolism)—30% of cases—excess cortisol which helps the body respond to stressful situations and infections
■Conn’s syndrome (Hyperaldosteronism)—2% of cases—excess aldosterone, which helps the body maintain normal levels of sodium and potassium
■ Virilization (20% of cases)—women with functional tumors that release males hormones; may deepen voice, cause hirsutism (growing excess hair on the face) , and swelling of the sex organs or breasts may occur
■A mixed Cushing’s syndrome and virilization accounts for 35% of all cases
■In young children with functional tumors that release sex hormones, these tumors may cause early onset of puberty

These symptoms may be caused by other health conditions. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should see a doctor.

For more, please read our Adrenal Cancer page here: http://www.empowher.com/condition/adrenal-cancer

Anon, please don't assume that you have cancer. Nothing has been diagnosed so try not to panic (I know that's far easier said that done).

What has your doctor suggested as your next step?


October 27, 2011 - 11:08am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Susan Cody)

This is where I found it. http://surgery.med.umich.edu/general/endocrine/patient/conditions/adrenal/adrenal.shtml

It states that it is very dangerous to do a biopsy. Thank you for your information. It makes me even more worried about this. I have had a complete historectomy when I was 21, I never was given harmones because the blood test showed I had harmonies of a 18 year old. I also have a problem with facial hair, and with weight.

October 27, 2011 - 12:00pm
HERWriter Guide (reply to Anonymous)

Hi again Anon!
I'm going to repost the content of your link for the benefit of others as it has important information:

Biopsy of the adrenal gland is not recommended except in highly specific instances. Biopsy may be appropriate if there is significant concern that an adrenal abnormality is the result of metastatic disease from another source when no other site of metastatic disease can be accessed for a biopsy. Biopsy of a pheochromocytoma [adrenal nodule producing adrenaline (epinephrine, norepinephrine, or dopamine)] is extremely dangerous and should not be done, as this can lead to extreme elevations in blood pressure and cause a stroke or heart attack. Biopsy of an adrenal mass not meeting imaging criteria for a benign process leads to recommendation for surgery regardless, and biopsy is not indicated. Puncture of an adrenal cancer by a needle or other instrument can potentially lead to increased recurrence at the site of the tumor after removal of the gland and decrease the chance for cure. It is extremely difficult for pathologists to differentiate a benign adrenal tumor from a malignant adrenal tumor from tissue obtained by a needle biopsy. Seek a second opinion if someone has recommended you have your adrenal nodule/mass biopsied.

Unusually, doctors seem to rely on imaging only.

Anon, having a complete hysterectomy would put you in surgical menopause straight away. Have you had your hormones tested recently? I'm confused about why your hormone levels would be the same as an 18 year old after a complete hysterectomy?


October 31, 2011 - 11:05am
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