Radiation therapy is used in a number of cancers as both the main method of killing cancer cells or in combination with surgery (either before or after). The radiation comes in the form of high-energy x-rays that are delivered to the patient only in the areas at highest risk for cancer. These x-rays are similar to those used for diagnostic x-rays, only of a much higher energy. The high-energy of x-rays in radiation therapy results in damage to the DNA of cells, causing tumor cells to die. Continue reading →
In addition to diagnosing adrenal cortical cancers, the radiographic imaging performed also helps to determine the stage of the patient. According to the seventh edition of the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC), which defines cancer staging systems, patients with adrenal cortical cancer are divided into one of four stages. Please note that there is no AJCC staging system for medullary adrenal carcinoma. Continue reading →
What causes adrenal cortical cancers and am I at risk?
Each year, there are approximately 500 cases of adrenal cortical cancers in the United States. These most commonly occur in patients between the ages of 30 and 50; however, children under the age of 5 develop adrenal cortical cancers at a higher rate than the rest of the population. Males are more likely to develop non-functioning adrenal carcinomas, while females are more likely to develop functioning adrenal carcinomas. In general, causes of adrenal cortical cancers are unknown. They are not associated with smoking, and do not run in families. Despite this, certain rare genetic syndromes such as Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, and multiple endocrine neoplasia, have been associated with adrenal cortical cancers. Continue reading →
The adrenal glands are small glands that are located just above each kidney (they are sometimes called the suprarenal glands for that reason). The adrenal glands are surrounded by a layer of connective tissue and a layer of fat. They are triangular in shape and consist of several distinct parts: Continue reading →