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What is adrenal cancer?

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Quick Answer

Adrenal cancer is cancer of the adrenal glands, The cancer is rare but aggressive. Patients can be cured if the disease is caught early, according to Mayo Clinic. The disease is also known as adrenal cortex carcinoma and adrenocortical cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

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Full Answer

The adrenal glands are located above the kidneys and produce hormones for many parts of the body, according to Mayo Clinic. The disease is often discovered during an imaging test for another problem. Symptoms of adrenal cancer include weight gain, fluid retention, early puberty and excess hair growth in women. These symptoms are caused by changes in the body's hormones because of the cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Larger tumors can cause patents to experience pain and fullness in the abdomen.

No specific risk factors have been linked to the development of adrenal cancer; however, up to 15 percent of adrenal cancers are caused by genetic diseases, such as Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, multiple endocrine neoplasia, and familial adenomatous polyposis, according to the American Cancer Society. There are four stages of adrenal cancer, defined by the size of the tumor, spread of the cancer to the lymph nodes, and its spread to distant parts of the body.

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