Like most cancers, adrenal cancer found in its early stages has the best outcomes. It is rare, so most are unfamiliar with the symptoms and risk factors. Educating patients allows for earlier detection.
No one knows the exact causes of this disease. However, research has shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop adrenal cancer.
Studies have found that, other than being of age 40 or older, the following hereditary conditions are the primary risk factors for adrenal cancer:
- Von Hippel Lindau (VHL) Syndrome: An inherited syndrome including development of pheochromocytoma adrenal tumors. VHL patients may also develop tumors of the kidney, brain, eyes, pancreas and, in males, the epididimys gland found next to the testicles.
- Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia (MEN) Syndrome: An inherited syndrome including development of pheochromocytoma adrenal tumors. MEN patients may also develop tumors or other abnormal growth of the thyroid gland, parathyroid gland, oral cavity and intestinal lining.
- Li-Fraumeni Syndrome: A rare, inherited predisposition to multiple cancers, caused by an alteration in the p53 tumor suppressor gene.
- Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome: A rare, overgrowth disorder involving increased risk for adrenal tumors, including in childhood. Babies with this syndrome are large at birth and may develop low blood sugar. Other common symptoms are a large tongue, large internal organs and defects of the abdominal wall near the navel.
- Carney Complex/Syndrome: A rare, inherited disorder marked by dark spots on the skin and tumors in the heart, skin, nerves and endocrine glands, including the adrenals.