Complications of Adrenal Cancer

A functioning adrenocortical tumor that produces excess cortisol may result in Cushing's syndrome. Approximately 30–40 percent of patients with Cushing's syndrome and an adrenal mass are diagnosed with adrenal cancer.

Symptoms of Cushing's syndrome include the following:

  • Absence of menstruation (amenorrhea)
  • Bruising easily
  • Excessive growth of facial and body hair in women (hirsutism)
  • Flushing (reddish complexion)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Increased blood sugar, diabetes (hyperglycemia)
  • Increased body fat (adiposity) in the face, neck, and abdomen
  • Loss of bone mass (osteoporosis); may cause spinal curvature
  • Severe acne
  • Slowed growth rate in children
  • Stretch marks (abdominal striae)
  • Weakness and muscle wasting

Conn's syndrome is caused by increased aldosterone production and may result from a functioning tumor in the adrenal cortex. Symptoms of Conn's syndrome include the following:

  • Chronic excessive thirst (polydipsia)
  • Excessive urination (polyuria)
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Low level of potassium in the blood (hypokalemia)

The hallmark of pheochromocytoma is sudden or sustained high blood pressure that is often resistant to treatment. Other symptoms include severe headaches, sweating, heart palpitations (rapid pulse), and nausea.

Symptoms of neuroblastoma include abdominal pain and bone pain resulting from metastatic disease.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 09 Jun 1998

Last Modified: 28 Aug 2015