Adrenal Cancer

Therapies and prognosis


The mainstay of treatment for adrenal cancer is surgical removal. If your tumor has spread outside the adrenal gland, then your doctor may or may not be able to remove all of your cancer with surgery. In that case, you will need chemotherapy.

Unfortunately, adrenal cancer tends to be resistant to most types of chemotherapy. However, mitotane (Lysondren®) is a type of chemotherapy that directly attacks adrenal tissue and has shown to be effective in a percentage of patients with adrenal cancer. For more advanced or recurrent cases, cis-platinum (Platinol®) has been used in conjunction with mitotane with some success. Additional chemotherapy agents in combination with mitotane are currently being studied. Investigators are also studying mitotane in combination with newer classes of anti-cancer medications, such as anti-angiogenic agents and anti-growth factor agents.


Although radiation therapy has had little success in the primary treatment of adrenal cancer, it is useful in certain situations following surgery. Also, if you have tumor that has spread to the brain or spinal cord, radiation therapy can help to prevent catastrophic complications.


Adrenal cancer is an aggressive type of cancer. Your prognosis depends on the size of your tumor, whether or not the tumor involves the lymph nodes, and whether or not the tumor has spread to other organs.