Adrenal Cortical Cancer Overview

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Treating Adrenal Cortical Cancer TOPICS

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About treatment


The goal of surgery is to get out as much of the cancer as possible, no matter where it is found. There are 2 major approaches to removing the adrenal gland. One way is to remove the gland through a cut (incision) in the back, just below the ribs. This works well for small tumors, but it can be hard to see larger tumors this way. In the other method, the surgeon makes a cut through the front of the belly. If the cancer has grown into the kidney, it will be removed too. If it has grown into the muscle and fat around the gland, these tissues will also be removed. If the liver is involved, part of that organ will be taken out. If the cancer has grown into the large vein that carries blood from the lower part of the body to the heart (called the inferior vena cava), a more involved operation will be needed.

Sometimes adrenal tumors can be removed through a hollow lighted tube called a laparoscope. The main advantage of this method is that because the cuts are much smaller, patients recover from surgery faster. Laparoscopic surgery is often used to treat adenomas, but it may not be an option for treating some larger adrenal cancers. This is because when adrenal cancers have grown into nearby tissues or lymph nodes, it may be hard to remove the whole tumor using laparoscopy.

Last Medical Review: 04/22/2010
Last Revised: 06/22/2010