What Is an Adrenal Mass?

An adrenal mass, or tumor, is a benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous) growth that develops on an adrenal gland. There are two adrenal glands in the body, one situated above each kidney. These small, triangle-shaped glands are responsible for producing adrenaline, cortisone and other steroid hormones that play a key role in keeping many of the body’s complex processes, such as metabolism, growth and fertility, in balance.

The reasons adrenal masses develop are somewhat of a mystery. Still, researchers have linked certain inherited syndromes to an increased likelihood of adrenal growths, including neurofibromatosis type 1, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2, Li-Fraumeni syndrome and von Hippel-Lindau disease. 

Because the adrenal glands control many delicate bodily responses, the symptoms of an adrenal mass can vary considerably. Some tumors don’t trigger any symptoms, while others can lead to high blood pressure, insomnia, excessive sweating, muscle spasms, easy bruising, decreased sex drive and many other problems. As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to consult with a physician if you experience any new or unusual symptoms that concern you.

How are adrenal tumors treated?

Usually, a benign adrenal tumor will require treatment only if it produces noticeable symptoms. A physician may prescribe medications to control the symptoms or suggest surgery to remove the tumor altogether.

Malignant adrenal tumors, also called adrenal carcinoma, are very rare. When they do occur, surgical removal is often recommended. Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may also be used to help destroy cancerous cells.

Moffitt Cancer Center features an Endocrine Program with physicians who focus exclusively on malignancies that impact the body’s endocrine system. And, because Moffitt is a high-volume cancer center, our endocrine cancer experts possess a unique level of experience in evaluating and treating even exceptionally rare malignancies like adrenal carcinoma. To request an appointment with a physician on our team, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online. A referral is not required to visit Moffitt.