The Endocrine Surgery team at Boston Medical Center is experienced in treating patients who have adrenal tumors, both benign and malignant. These include pheochromocytomas, paragangliomas, adrenal cortical adenomas, and adrenal cortical carcinomas. Working closely with endocrinologists and other specialists, we develop a care plan tailored to each patient.
Most patients have two adrenal glands, one on top of each kidney. These glands produce a variety of hormones that play key roles throughout the body, regulating everything from metabolism and blood pressure to the response to stress—"fight or flight.”
There are several types of adrenal tumors. Most are benign (noncancerous) but can nonetheless cause health problems. Many adrenal tumors are discovered when a patient has a CT or MRI scan or some other form of imaging due to a different health concern.
Cortical adrenal tumors may cause Cushing’s syndrome (over production of a hormone called cortisol) or hypertension (due to over production of aldosterone, also known as Conn’s syndrome). Medullary adrenal tumors can also cause hypertension, often in association with headaches, palpitations, and sweats. These medullary tumors are called pheochromocytomas; paragangliomas are similar and typically reside near the adrenal glands.
A cancerous tumor in an adrenal gland is called an adrenocortical carcinoma. If the tumor originates from the adrenal gland, it is a "primary" tumor. "Secondary" tumors can also develop in adrenal glands when a cancer spreads from another organ, such as the kidney or lung.
Surgery to remove an adrenal gland is known as adrenalectomy and can usually be performed using minimally invasive techniques, typically through the front or side of the abdomen (laparoscopic) or via the back (retroperitoneoscopic).
At Boston Medical Center, our multidisciplinary approach ensures that patients with adrenal tumors receive the highest quality care.
Professor of Surgery and Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs, Boston University School of Medicine
Associate Professor of Surgery, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston MA
Surgical Oncology, Liver, Pancreas and Biliary Cancers, Cancers of the Stomach, Sarcoma, Melanoma