The American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, Patient Education Site

Adrenocortical carcinoma
(adrenal cancer)

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What is adrenocortical cancer?

Adrenocortical cancer (ACC) is a very rare, but very deadly cancer of the adrenal glands. It arises from the outer layer of the adrenal gland called the cortex. There are only about 600 new cases diagnosed every year (about 1 case in one million people). It is most common either before the age of 10 or between 50 and 60 years of age. Fortunately, adrenocortical cancer in children is often diagnosed and treated at an early stage. For this reason, the prognosis for children is much better than for adults. Adults rarely have obvious symptoms, so they often are not diagnosed until the cancer is large and has spread to other parts of the body. Although adrenal cancer can be treated in adults, it usually comes back. Once it comes back, it is almost always fatal.

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