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The adrenal glands are responsible for secreting a range of hormones that regulate many processes, such as blood pressure, sex hormone production, and even heart rate. When tumors develop in the adrenal glands, they may produce too much or too little of the body’s essential hormones, resulting in serious health issues. It is important to note that while adrenal tumors may not be cancerous, the resulting hormone imbalance must be treated as soon as possible to prevent serious harm.
If you or someone you care about is experiencing the signs and symptoms of adrenal tumors, do not wait to get treatment from the experienced urologists at Comprehensive Urology. Our dedicated doctors have extensive training in diagnosing and treating both benign and cancerous adrenal tumors and have access to the best technology available. To schedule a consultation, please call (310) 499-2756 or contact us online.
What are the Signs and Symptoms?
Benign adrenal lesions or cancerous growths in the adrenal glands, which are located at the top of the kidneys, may not produce any symptoms, however, in the event that hormone production is altered, an individual may experience one or a combination of the following:
- Excess face or body hair
- High blood pressure
- Sudden weight gain
- Abnormalities in salt and potassium
In order to diagnose the condition, your urologist may schedule a series of imaging and lab tests, such as a CT scan, urine studies, or needle biopsies. The symptoms of adrenal tumors are similar to those caused by Cushing’s disease, a condition in which tumors in the pituitary gland impact adrenal gland function, or Conn’s Syndrome, a condition in which a tumor in the outer part of the adrenal gland causes excessive amounts of the hormone
Treating Adrenal Gland Tumors
The recommended treatment options for adrenal tumors will depend on the patient’s age, health, medical history, and the severity of the hormone imbalance. Treatments may include:
Robotic adrenal surgery to remove all or part of the tumors and/or adrenal glands (adrenalectomy)
Medication to maintain normal hormone levels, especially if the adrenal glands are removed
Radiation to destroy tumor cells with high energy x-rays
Regular monitoring and observation of the adrenal glands when the tumors are non-cancerous and do not cause hormone imbalance
Following treatment, it is possible for recurrent tumors to develop, so it is vital that patients take an active approach and schedule regular screenings to monitor for whether the benign or cancerous cells have developed in the body.
Robotic Adrenal Surgery
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with adrenal tumors, whether benign or cancerous, there are a number of potential treatment options available to achieve a safe, normal hormone balance without interfering with daily life. Adrenal tumors can cause a range of health issues because the glands either produce too much or too little of the body’s necessary hormones.
At Comprehensive Urology, our exceptional team of urologists has the training and experience necessary to accurately diagnose and treat adrenal tumors with the best technology available, such as the robot-assisted surgical devices, such as the da Vinci Surgical System.
What is Involved in Robotic Adrenal Surgery?
Unlike traditional surgery in which a surgeon makes a large incision through tissue and muscle, with limited visibility, robot-assisted surgery gives surgeons better control and visualization using the most cutting-edge technology. The surgeon uses a series of small, minimally invasive robotic instruments that can perform incisions, dissections, cauterization, as well as a stereoscopic camera that provides three-dimensional high definition imagery to ensure precision and accuracy.
Whether only a portion of the adrenal gland or the total gland is removed, the robotic surgical system ensures that healthy tissue and surrounding organs are left untouched.
What are the Benefits of Robot-Assisted Adrenal Surgery?
For many patients, robotic adrenal surgery is the best treatment option for adrenal tumors based on the following benefits:
- Fewer and smaller incisions
- Robotic camera provides clear visualization of surgery site
- Precise removal of only cancerous tissue
- Reduced risk of complications
- Less blood loss and scarring
- Shorter recovery times
- Less hospital time
Conn’s syndrome is a medical condition in which a tumor in one or both adrenal glands causes high blood pressure and low potassium levels in the blood. As a result, individuals may experience excessive urination, periods of weakness or fatigue, muscle cramps, transient paralysis, and sensations of warmth or tingling.
What is Conn’s Syndrome?
Also known as hyperaldosteronism, Conn’s syndrome is a rare metabolic disorder that most often occurs as a result of an abnormal growth or tumor in the cortex region of one or both adrenal glands. In some rare cases, the syndrome is caused by cancerous growths in the adrenal glands. The growths interfere with the adrenal glands, which help regulate the necessary hormones throughout the body. Instead, the body suffers from an increase in sodium, increase of blood volume and low potassium.
Additional Signs and Symptoms of Conn’s Syndrome
The most common signs and symptoms of this disorder include:
- Excessive thirst
- Muscle spasms
- Kidney disease
- Excessive urination
- Warm or tingling sensations
- Weakness or fatigue
- Transient paralysis
Treatments for Conn’s Syndrome
Fortunately, it is possible to treat Conn’s syndrome by surgically removing the adrenal tumors or the adrenal gland (adrenalectomy). Patients typically experience improvement fairly quickly after such an operation as the blood pressure and potassium levels return to normal. In some cases, patients may need to moderate their diets by restricting salt intake. It may also be necessary for patients to take specific medications to help maintain health blood pressure and hormone levels in their body.
At Comprehensive Urology, our skilled surgeons perform laparoscopic and robotic adrenalectomy when treating Conn’s syndrome because it requires only small incisions and can be conducted with incredible visibility. The benefits include less blood loss, improved recovery times, and no hospital time.
If you or someone you care about is living with the symptoms of Conn’s syndrome, do not wait to schedule a consultation with the urology specialists at Comprehensive Urology. Our physicians are highly trained and dedicated to helping each patient overcome their condition and achieve the best possible outcome.
Cushing’s syndrome is a hormone disorder in which the adrenal glands produce excessive amounts of cortisol, which eventually causes a variety of health issues, such as weight gain, fatigue, reduced fertility, and even personality changes.
What Causes Cushing’s Syndrome?
Cushing’s syndrome can occur when a tumor forms in one or both of the adrenal glands, causing an overproduction of the hormone cortisol. Adrenal tumors are not common and may develop as non-cancerous growths known as adrenal adenomas or micronodular hyperplasia or as cancerous growths, such as adrenal carcinoma.
Another condition that may also be responsible for abnormal levels of cortisol production is known as Conn’s syndrome. This disease is characterized by small tumors that develop in the cortex of one or both adrenal glands, resulting in overproduction of cortisol as well as high blood pressure.
Cushing’s Syndrome Symptoms
An important part of treatment for any condition is catching it early on for the most effective care possible, which allows doctors to prevent serious and long-lasting harm. As such, it is vital to be aware of the symptoms that may indicate the presence of a disease in order to see a doctor and receive a diagnosis as soon as possible. Cushing’s syndrome may cause the following symptoms:
- Roundness of the face (moon face)
- Excess fat on the back of the neck (buffalo hump)
- Weight gain in the abdominal region
- Excess hair on the face and body
- Fatigue and muscle weakness
- Decreased fertility and sex drive
- High blood pressure
- Mood disorders
Treatments for Cushing’s Syndrome
Cushing’s syndrome is a very rare condition that affects as little as 10 to 20 people out of one million each year, so it is vital to seek diagnosis and treatment from a highly trained and highly experienced team. It may be possible to manage the symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome with medications that reduce the amount of cortisol that the adrenal glands produce. However, the skilled urologists at Comprehensive Urology work closely with a team of experts at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center when diagnosing and treating Cushing’s syndrome. In some cases, it may be necessary to surgically remove the adrenal tumors or even the entire adrenal glands. If one or both glands are removed, there are certain medications that can help supplement the body’s hormone levels.
The majority of pheochromocytomas are non-cancerous tumors (90%) that develop at the center of an adrenal gland, with only 10% being malignant. The adrenal glands are located at the top of the kidneys and help the regulate the body’s many processes and organ functions.
Pheochromocytoma causes the adrenal gland to release a particular hormone that causes persistent or occasional bursts of high blood pressure, which can become harmful if not addressed. Pheochromocytoma affects men and women between the ages of 20 and 50.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Pheochromocytoma?
If you notice that you or someone you care about experiences one or a combination of the following signs and symptoms in short bursts, such as 15 to 20 minutes a day or less, get in touch with Comprehensive Urology. The signs and symptoms include:
- High blood preasure
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive sweating
- Rapid heartbeat
- Severe headache
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain
Treatment Options for Pheochromocytoma
In many cases, the best treatment for patients with pheochromocytoma is surgical removal of the adrenal gland with the tumor. The procedure is minimally invasive, requiring only a small incision for the surgeon to remove the gland with a thin device. Using a small video camera, the surgeon can be sure to target only the adrenal gland, leaving surrounding tissues unharmed.
Prior to surgery, certain medications will be prescribed to help stabilize blood pressure in order to reduce the risk of complications. These medications may include Alpha blockers, Beta blockers, or others designed to lower blood pressure.
Benign Adrenal Lesions
Benign adrenal tumors are small, non-cancerous growths that develop in the adrenal glands but do not metastasize or spread to other areas of the body. In most cases, this type of tumor does not cause any symptoms and may be found during an abdominal exam or diagnostic test, in which case treatment may not be necessary.
However, in the event that the lesions interfere with adrenal gland function, causing the gland to produce too much or too little of the body’s essential hormones, than medical treatment will be strongly recommended. In some cases, even benign lesions can become cancerous, so it is important to discuss your situation with a urologist.
Types of Benign Adrenal Lesions
Benign adrenal lesions typically fall under one of two categories depending on the location within the adrenal gland in which they develop. If the tumor is found in the cortex area of the adrenal gland, which is located on the outer layers, it is called an adrenal adenoma. However, if the tumor is found in the medulla, which is the innermost part of the gland, it is called pheochromocytoma.
The location of the lesions will also influence which hormones are secreted through the body’s endocrine system.
Adrenal Adenoma – Located in the cortex section, these lesions may affect blood pressure, metabolism, and stress regulation.
Pheochromocytoma – Located in the medulla section, these lesions may interfere with energy, strength, alertness, heart rate, sweat, and blood pressure.
How are Benign Adrenal Lesions Treated?
Depending on the size and location of a benign lesion in an adrenal gland, the condition may not automatically require treatment, however it is crucial to have a urologist regularly monitor the lesion for any changes. If the tumor is affecting the adrenal gland or becoming malignant, medication, chemotherapy, or surgery may be necessary.
Medication – In mild cases, medications may help balance the hormone levels that have been affected by the tumor.
Chemotherapy – Drugs are injected into the blood stream that help reduce and kill lesions.
Surgery – One or both adrenal glands may be removed to prevent further issues and medications will help replace hormones that the body is no longer able to produce on its own.