It is hard to find adrenal cancers early, and they are often quite large by the time they are diagnosed.
Adrenal cancers are often found earlier in children than in adults because cancers in children are more likely to secrete hormones that lead to signs and symptoms. For example, children may develop signs of puberty at an early age due to sex hormones made by adrenal cancer cells.
These tumors are sometimes found early by accident in adults, such as when a CT (computed tomography) scan of the abdomen is done for some other health concern.
The American Cancer Society has official recommendations for the early detection of several types of cancer. But because adrenal cancers occur so rarely, the Society does not recommend routine testing for this cancer in people without any symptoms.
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Lirov R, Tobias E, Lerario AM, Hammer GD. Adrenal tumors In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 2015: Chapter 84.
Schneider DF, Mazeh H, Lubner SJ, Jaume JC, Chen H. Cancer of the endocrine system In: Neiderhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA. Elsevier: 2014: 1112-1142.
Last Revised: January 2, 2018