The American Association of Endocrine Surgeons, Patient Education Site

Metastases to the adrenal gland

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Signs and Symptoms

Nearly all patients who develop an adrenal metastasis will have a history of a prior cancer, usually one of the common cancers listed above that has a tendency to spread to the adrenal gland. It is very rare for metastatic cancer to show up first in the adrenal gland all by itself without prior warning. Therefore, patients who develop an adrenal metastasis often have their tumor identified by routine studies performed for follow-up of their underlying cancer, for example by CAT scan or PET scan. Sometimes a patient will have symptoms related to the growth of their adrenal metastasis, for example abdominal or back discomfort. Rarely, if both adrenal glands are involved with metastasesMetastases - cancer that has spread from another part of the body, a patient may develop symptoms related to insufficient production of steroid hormones by the involved adrenal glands (adrenal insufficiency or Addisonian state). Adrenal insufficiency is characterized by weakness, low blood pressure, low blood sugar, low blood sodium and high potassium levels, and darkening of the skin.

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