Adrenal Carcinomas are rare, and current treatment regimes vary widely. Surgery, radiation, chemotherapy are the three types of standard treatment.
Surgery: surgical resection remains the most common treatment for a curative therapeutic option. Adrenalectomy is often used to remove the adrenal gland, and to remove nearby lymph nodes if the cancer has spread. For small adrenal tumors, a less invasive laparoscopic approach is often possible. Laparoscopic surgery leaves smaller incisions and requires less recovery time. Tumor ablation, a minimally invasive procedure that uses heat to kill tumor cells, is sometimes used to kill cancer cells and improve quality of life.
Radiation Therapy: radiation (the use of high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells) can be given using external beam radiation therapy or by employing brachytherapy (internal radiation therapy) using small pellets of radioactive material. Radiation is usually used after surgery to prevent reoccurrence.
Chemotherapy: chemotherapy is used to treat adrenal cancer following surgery, or for adrenal cancer that is too widespread to be removed by resection. Mitotane is the drug most commonly used to shrink adrenal tumors. Mitotane blocks hormone production by the adrenal gland, and can be helpful in relieving syptoms. Other chemotherapy drugs are used in combination with Mitotane, such as cisplatin, doxorubicin, etoposide and streptozocin.
Biologic and targeted therapies, treatments that use the patient’s immune system to fight cancer and drugs that identify specific cancer growth pathways without harming healthy cells, are also being tested in clinical trials and these novel therapeutic drugs may offer promise in treating adrenal cancer.