Adrenal Cancer Program

The Adrenal Cancer Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi provides specialized care and support for people diagnosed with tumors that originate in the adrenal glands.  

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Adrenal cancer is a rare type of endocrine cancer that begins in the adrenal glands. Your adrenal glands (you have two) sit above each kidney and their role is to make hormones that help to control blood pressure, how your body obtains energy from food, how your body reacts to stress, and to make small amounts of sex hormones. 

The Adrenal Cancer Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Oncology institute provides specialized treatment for tumors that originate in the adrenal glands, close to home. 

Endocrine cancer surgery is a highly specialized field that combines endocrinology, surgery and oncology. Our experts work closely with Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s medical endocrinologists in the Medical Subspecialties Institute and perform a large number of endocrine surgeries each year. 

Adrenal Cancer Program
  • Why Choose Us?
  • What We Treat
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis & Treatment
  • Prevention & Screening
  • Program Caregivers

Why Choose Us?

Our team of endocrine surgeons and oncologists are among the most experienced in the region, an important differentiating factor when it comes to improving patient outcomes. We work closely with the department of endocrine surgery at Cleveland Clinic in the US, one of the busiest endocrine practices in the world and a center that is at the forefront of emerging treatments, technology, and surgical approaches, including robotic surgery.

Our multidisciplinary approach brings together a team of experts to provide coordinated and exceptional patient care to those diagnosed with endocrine cancers. The team meets regularly as a multidisciplinary tumor board to discuss each patient and ensure the best treatment options are considered for each individual.

Why Choose Us

What We Treat

Your adrenal glands consist of an outer part, called the adrenal cortex, which is where most adrenal cancers begin. The inner part is the adrenal medulla. 

Most tumors within adrenal glands are not cancer (benign). It can be difficult to tell if the tumor is benign or cancerous (malignant), but if it has spread to other parts of the body, then it is cancer.  

Tumors that begin in the adrenal glands include: 

Adrenal Cancers 

  • Nonfunctional adrenal tumors: Tumors that do not produce hormones and therefore do not cause syndromes or diseases. These tumors are usually benign. Adenoma is the most common type of benign adrenal gland tumor. 
  • Functional adrenal tumors and nodules: Tumors that do produce hormones and cause certain diseases and syndromes, such as Cushing’s disease and hyperthyroidism. These can include:  
  • Adrenal cortex cancer (adrenal cortical carcinoma): A rare tumor but the most common type of adrenal gland tumor. 
  • Pheochromocytoma: usually a non-cancerous tumor which makes hormones inside of the adrenal glands. 
  • Neuroblastoma: A tumor which usually beings in the adrenal glands (or neck, chest, or spinal cord) of children. 
What we treat

Symptoms, Causes & Risk Factors

Symptoms of Adrenal Cancer

Symptoms of adrenal cancer can include: 

  • Weight gain 
  • Stretch marks on the skin 
  • Muscle weakness 
  • Hormone changes: In women these may cause irregular periods, hair loss, excess facial hair. In men, they may include shrinking testicles and enlarged breast tissue.  
  • Nausea/vomiting 
  • Back pain 
  • Abdominal bloating 
  • Fever 
  • Loss of appetite and weight  

Causes & Risk Factors of Adrenal Cancer

Adrenal cancer happens when a change within the DNA of a cell of the adrenal gland mutates, causing it to multiply uncontrollably. Abnormal cells then outnumber healthy cells and a tumor form. Doctors don’t know why adrenal cancer develops but there are certain risk factors that can increase your risk of developing the disease. People with the following inherited syndromes may be more at risk: 

  • Carney complex 
  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia, type 1 (MEN 1) 
  • Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome 
  • Lynch syndrome 
  • Li-Fraumeni syndrome 

Diagnosis & Treatment

At Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, our team of specialists are highly trained in a variety of procedures designed to diagnose and treat adrenal cancer.

Diagnosis of Adrenal Cancer 

The following tests and procedures may be performed to diagnose adrenal cancer: 

  • Blood and urine tests: These are looking for high levels of hormones produced by the adrenal glands, such as cortisol, aldosterone and androgens. 

  • Imaging tests: CT, MRI or positron emission tomography (PET) scans allow doctors to view growths on the adrenal glands or areas that cancer may have spread to.  

  • Removal of the adrenal gland: The gland is analyzed in a laboratory to look for cancer and to determine which cells are involved. 

Treatment for Adrenal Cancer  

Adrenal cancer is usually treated with surgery to remove all of the cancer. Other treatments may be offered to help prevent the cancer from coming back or if surgery is not an option. 

Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Adrenal Cancer Program provides access to the latest minimally invasive techniques, putting Patients First and helping them to recover as quickly as possible. Some surgeries to remove adrenal tumors can be performed as cutting-edge, robotically-assisted surgeries that result in less pain and lower requirements for pain medication for the patient. 

  • Surgery: Aims to remove the adrenal cancer by removing the entire adrenal gland. If the cancer has spread to nearby organs, parts of all of these organs may also be removed.  

  • Radiation: High dose radiation kills cancer cells and can reduce pain and other symptoms if the cancer has spread.   

  • Chemotherapy: Medication that can kill cancer cells or slow down the progression of cancer if the adrenal cancers weren’t removed with surgery or have returned after initial treatments.

In advanced or recurrent cases of cancers of the endocrine system, and/or special types of endocrine cancers, targeted therapies, immunotherapy or chemotherapy can be offered. Your clinical team can advise further if a medical oncologist consultation is needed.


Prevention & Screening

Doctors are still unsure how to prevent adrenal cancer. Because the risk factors for the disease are not preventable (you cannot avoid or change them) there is nothing that can be done to prevent the disease.


Program Caregivers

The Adrenal Cancer Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is a multidisciplinary collaboration across teams of skilled physicians. Caregivers involved include:  

  • Endocrinologists 
  • Medical Oncologists 
  • Radiation oncologists 
  • Radiologists  
  • Pathologists  
  • Nurse specialists  
  • Physiotherapy  
  • Dieticians  
  • Psychologist 
  • Genetic Counsellor

Adrenal Cancer Program Doctors

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