There are two adrenal glands, and they are situated on top of the right and the left kidney respectively. They produce hormones that are essential for the functioning of the body. Occasionally, tumours can be occur in the adrenal gland.
Image from Rogel Cancer Center, The Regents of the University of Michigan
Adrenal tumours may:
– be benign and not cause health problems
– produce excessive hormones which can cause the patient to have problems such as high blood pressure, body weakness and weight gain
– be cancerous and life-threatening
Usually, the adrenal tumour is diagnosed through CT scan. If the tumour is more than 4 – 5 cm in size, there is a good chance that it is cancerous. If the patient has some symptoms related to excessive hormones, specialised blood tests can be done to confirm if the tumour is producing the hormone.
The best treatment for adrenal tumours is surgery to remove the tumour. In the past, the surgery had to be performed through a large incision. The usual method nowadays is to remove the tumour with keyhole surgery. The surgery is known as laparoscopic adrenalectomy.
This surgery is performed through 3 or 4 incisions of 5 – 10 mm in size. The benefit of laparoscopic adrenalectomy is that the patients recover much earlier compared to open surgery. Depending on the type of of hormone produced, sometimes certain medication has to be given to the patient in order to prepare them for surgery.