Types of Adrenal Tumors

There are two main types of adrenal tumors, each one developing in a different part of the adrenal gland. Adrenal cortex tumors, for instance, develop in the outer layer (cortex) of the gland, while adrenal medulla tumors develop within the gland’s inner core (medulla).

Within each general category, there are several tumor subtypes. These include:

  • Adenomas – These adrenal cortex tumors are the most common adrenal tumors. They are benign (non-cancerous) and slow-growing; as a result, they may not require immediate treatment.
  • Adrenocortical carcinomas – These adrenal cortex tumors are rare but malignant. They can be functional (hormone-producing) or non-functional (non-hormone-producing). They begin in the adrenal gland’s cortex and often spread to the nearby blood vessels. Because they tend to grow very quickly, prompt treatment is crucial.
  • Neuroblastomas – These adrenal medulla tumors most frequently diagnosed among children. Neuroblastomas are one of the most common pediatric cancers. They develop in the adrenal gland’s immature neuroblastic cells.
  • Pheochromocytomas – These adrenal medulla tumors can be either cancerous or non-cancerous. They develop in the adrenal gland’s chromaffin cells.

The type of adrenal tumor diagnosed can significantly influence a patient’s treatment plan. Adrenocortical carcinomas, for example, spread very quickly, and oncologists typically recommend several different forms of treatment to destroy as many cancerous cells as possible. In contrast, pheochromocytomas can often be cured through surgery alone.

Moffitt Cancer Center’s experienced oncologists have treated countless adrenal tumors, including adenomas, carcinomas, neuroblastomas and pheochromocytomas. We take an individualized approach to treatment, recommending a tailored combination of treatments to each patient based on the specifics of his or her diagnosis. In this way, we’re able to achieve the best possible survival outcomes, while also helping each patient improve his or her quality of life.

To learn more about the various types of adrenal tumors and the treatments we offer for each, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online. We welcome patients with and without referrals.