Signs and Symptoms of Adrenal Cortical Tumors

Adrenal Cortical Carcinoma or Adrenocortical carcinoma is commonly called as Adrenal Cortical Tumors. These are aggressive cancers located in the cortex of the adrenal glands. The cortex or the adrenal cortex, situated in the adrenal glands produces mineralocorticoids aldosterone and glucocorticoids cortisol. Carcinoma is a malignant tumor that begins in the surface layer epithelium of a body part or organ that might spread to other parts of the body.

Adrenal cortical tumors are rare cancer cells that affects around 1-2 persons per million population annually. It affects mainly in children under 6 and in adults between 30-40 years old. However, most tumors found children are functional and virilization is the most common symptom, followed by Cushing’s syndrome (hormone disorder caused by high levels of cortisol in the blood) and precocious puberty (puberty occurring at an unusually early age). In adults, Cushing’s syndrome is by far the most common followed by a mixed of Cushing’s syndrome and virilization (glucocorticoid cortisol over production). Patients suspected of having adrenal cortical tumors should be examined cautiously for signs and symptoms of hormonal syndromes.

Adrenal cortical tumors cells may have abdominal or flank pain or asymptomatic, may be detected incidentally. Other symptoms may also show fatty “buffalo hump like” on the neck and along the collar bone, a “moonlike” face, thinning skin disorder (easy bruising and dryness, mainly in the hands), excess sweating (hyperhidrosis), dilation of capillaries (telangiectasia), purple or red striae (stretch marks in the skin causing it to hemorrhage) particularly on the buttocks, legs, arms or breasts, and proximal muscle weakening. In women, virilism (excessive androgen) may produce superfluity facial and body hair, enlargement of clitoris, acne, coarsening facial features, voice deepening and cessation of monthly menstruation.

In some cases, Cushing’s may also cause hypercalcemia that can lead to skin tissue death, although it’s very rare. The excess production of cortisol may also affect endocrine system that causes insomnia, reduced libido, aromatase inhibitor, impotence, infertility and amenorrhoea/oligomenorrhea. Commonly, patients may also suffer depressions and anxiety. Notable signs includes persistent hypertensions ( due to epinephrine’s vasoconstrictive effect or the narrowing of blood vessels), insulin resistance which is common in ectopic ACTH production that can lead to high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) diabetes millitus, and especially polyuria usually accompanied by polydipsia.

If left untreated, Cushing’s syndrome may lead to heart diseases and death.


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