Surgery is most often used to remove the affected adrenal gland. This procedure is called an adrenalectomy. While performing the procedure, if your doctor sees that the cancer has spread to other areas — for example, your lymph nodes or kidneys — the affected areas may also be removed. While adrenalectomies were often performed as open surgery in the past, in some cases today they may be done in a minimally invasive manner. Selecting the right approach depends on factors unique to you, including tumor size and overall health, so talk to your doctor about your options.
During radiation treatment , a high-energy beam is directed at precise points on your body to kill cancer cells. At Markey, one radiation therapy option is external beam radiation therapy. This beam could be made of gamma rays, X-rays or particles, such as electrons, protons or neutrons. For adrenal cancer, radiation is used most often in cases where cancer has spread or after removal of the adrenal glands to kill any remaining cancer cells and help prevent the cancer from returning. In some cases, radiation therapy may also help reduce pain and other symptoms if the cancer has spread to additional parts of the body. Learn more about our services by visiting our Radiation Oncology website.
Chemotherapy is designed to find and kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy can be administered intravenously or orally in the form of a pill. Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment, which means it affects cancer cells throughout the body.
For adrenal cancer, chemotherapy is typically used to treat cases where the cancer has spread too far to be removed with surgery.
Some medications may be used to block or reduce the effects of excessive hormone production caused by cancer. These include medications that:
- Drugs that block excess estrogen, used in men with tumors that increase estrogen production
- Drugs to reduce the effects of aldosterone, which affects your blood pressure
- Drugs to reduce the effects of cortisol
- Drugs that reduce adrenal hormone production in general
Additionally, taking certain supplements after surgery to remove the adrenal gland can help replace hormones that were previously produced by the gland.