You have two adrenal glands, one just above each of your kidneys. Your adrenal glands produce hormones that give instructions to virtually every organ and tissue in your body.
Adrenal cancer is a rare cancer. It is often aggressive. When found early, adrenal cancer can be cured. But if the cancer has spread to areas beyond the adrenal gland, cure becomes less likely. Treatment can be used to delay progression or recurrence.
Noncancerous (benign) adrenal tumors, such as adenomas or pheochromocytoma, also can develop in the adrenal glands.
Most benign adrenal tumors cause no symptoms and don’t require treatment. But sometimes benign adrenal tumors can secrete high levels of certain hormones that can cause complications. In these cases, treatment for benign adrenal tumors may include surgery or medications.
It is a rare, usually noncancerous (benign) tumor that develops in the core of an adrenal gland.
If you have a pheochromocytoma, your adrenal glands can produce too much of certain hormones, raising your blood pressure and heart rate. A pheochromocytoma may be life-threatening if unrecognized or untreated.
A pheochromocytoma can develop at any age, but most commonly occurs in middle age. Usually, treatment for pheochromocytoma can return blood pressure to normal.
Surgery to remove an adrenal gland
The most common treatment for a pheochromocytoma is surgical removal of the entire affected adrenal gland. In most cases, signs and symptoms then disappear. Blood pressure usually returns to normal soon after surgery. Before surgery, your doctor will prescribe medications to block the effects of the adrenal hormones and control blood pressure. If both adrenal glands are affected by pheochromocytoma and are surgically removed, you’ll need to take medication to replace the other hormones once produced by these glands.
Depending on the size and location of the tumor, laparoscopic surgery may be performed. Laparoscopic surgery involves inserting instruments through several small incisions. This procedure may result in quicker recovery compared with conventional surgery, which requires a larger incision. Although it’s becoming more widely used for pheochromocytoma, laparoscopic surgery isn’t for everyone. Talk to your out team about this less invasive technique to see if it’s an option for you.