Treatment at Mayo Clinic

By Mayo Clinic Staff


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Adrenal cancer is often aggressive. A cure is possible only if surgery can completely remove the tumor, and cancer may recur after successful surgery.

At Mayo Clinic, the type of surgery you have depends on the size and characteristics of your adrenal tumor and on your overall health. The options include:

  • Laparoscopic adrenalectomy. The surgeon inserts a long, flexible tube with a tiny camera on the tip (scope) into your abdomen through a small incision in your back or side, and then removes the tumor through other small incisions. This procedure may permit a shorter hospital stay and more rapid recovery compared with other treatments.
  • Posterior surgery. The surgeon makes an incision in your back above your kidney to reach the tumor.
  • Surgery through the abdomen (transabdominal). The surgeon makes an incision in your abdomen to reach the adrenal glands and remove the tumor.
  • Surgery through the chest and abdomen (thoracoabdominal). Mayo Clinic surgeons use this procedure for very large adrenal tumors. This surgery requires a large incision through the chest and abdomen.

For tumors that are too large for safe removal, Mayo Clinic specialists may recommend:

  • Cryoablation. This procedure destroys tumor cells by freezing them using a special probe inserted into the tumor. The ice crystals formed in the cancer cells disrupt the cells, causing cell death. Use of cryoablation depends on tumor size and the types of surrounding tissue.
  • Radiofrequency ablation (RFA). Your doctor inserts a needle into your tumor to heat and destroy it. The tumor size and surrounding tissue types determine if RFA can be performed.

Additional treatment is usually needed to delay recurrence of adrenal cancer. The options include:

  • Medication to slow tumor growth or reduce tumor size. At Mayo Clinic, medication may be used not only to treat adrenal cancer that wasn't entirely removed with surgery, but also to prevent recurrence of highly aggressive tumors after successful surgery.
  • Chemotherapy, to slow the growth of cancer, especially if it has spread to other organs.
  • Radiation therapy, to kill cancer cells.

Your Mayo Clinic specialist also may prescribe medications to ease the effects of excess hormone production that are often associated with adrenal cancer.

Nov. 26, 2012