Adrenal Cancer is cancer that begins in the small glands that sit above each of the kidneys, which are located inside the upper part of the abdomen.
These glands are important to the body’s endocrine, or hormonal, system. Each adrenal gland has two main parts that function separately:
Adrenal cortex: The cortex is the outer part of the adrenal gland, and is where most tumors develop.The function of the cortex is to make hormones. The adrenal cortex makes three main hormones: cortisol, which helps the body handle stress, aldosterone, which helps regulate the level of salt in the blood, and precursors for adrenal androgens like dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). These hormones are essential for healthy metabolism and body characteristics, such as hair growth and body shape.
Adrenal medulla: The medulla is the inner part of the adrenal gland. The adrenal medulla makes three hormones called catecholamines: epinephrine, also called adrenaline, norepinephrine, and dopamine. The hormones made in the medulla control the body’s responses to stress.
Adrenal cortical cancer
- Adrenocortical carcinoma: adrenocortical carcinoma is the most common type of cancerous adrenal gland tumor. It is also known as adrenal cortical carcinoma. Adrenocortical cancer is rare, approximately four to 12 out of one million people develop this type of tumor. These tumors often spread to lymph nodes and other organs or tissues. The tumors from the adrenal cortex produce excess secretion of steroid hormones and aldosterone.
Adrenal medulla tumors and cancers
- Pheochromocytoma: These tumors, that are rare and usually benign, begin in the chromaffin cells of the adrenal medulla. Tumors from the adrenal medulla produce excessive amounts of catecholamines.