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What are the signs and symptoms of adrenal carcinomas?

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Quick Answer

Adrenal cancers often cause symptoms related to the overproduction of hormones that they cause, according to the American Cancer Society. The specific symptoms depend on the particular hormone that is being produced, but commonly include weight gain or loss, fatigue and weakness, blood pressure changes and menstrual irregularities in women.

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Full Answer

Adrenal, or adrenocortical, carcinomas are rare tumors that affect the adrenal glands, says the National Cancer Institute. These glands produce hormones that help the body handle stress, control blood pressure, and determine an individual's secondary sex characteristics. Because the adrenal glands regulate so many physiological aspects, adrenal tumors can result in a wide variety of symptoms, states the American Society of Clinical Oncology. In addition to the common symptoms, a patient with adrenal cancer can also experience heart palpitations, anxiety, unusual acne, abnormal hair growth, and changes in sex drive. In rare cases, blood sugar regulation is so severely affected that a patient can develop diabetes.

Up to 80 percent of adrenal carcinomas actively produce hormones, claims WebMD. However, in some cases, adrenal cancers can also cause symptoms by pressing into nearby organs. This may result in abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and the patient experiencing a bloated feeling, says the American Cancer Society.

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