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Adrenal Cancer: Treatment Choices

Man talking to healthcare provider in exam room.There are several treatment choices for adrenal cancer. Which may work best for you? It depends things such as:

  • The tumor’s size

  • The tumor’s location

  • Test results

  • The stage or extent of the disease

  • Your age and overall health

  • Your personal concerns and preferences

  • What side effects you’ll find acceptable

Learning about your treatment options

You may have questions and concerns about your treatment options. You may also want to know how you’ll feel and function after treatment, and if you can do your normal activities.

Your doctor is the best person to answer your questions. He or she can tell you what your treatment choices are and how successful they’re expected to be. Your doctor can also tell you what the risks and side effects are. Your doctor may advise a specific treatment. Or he or she may suggest more than 1 treatment, and ask you to decide which you’d like to use. It can be hard to make this decision. It is important to take the time you need to make the best decision.

Types of treatment

Adrenal cancer treatments may be local or systemic. Local treatments remove, destroy, or control cancer cells in 1 area. Surgery and radiation are local treatments.

Systemic treatments destroy or control cancer cells all over your body. Chemotherapy and other medicines are systemic treatments. You may have just 1 treatment. Or you may have a combination of treatments.

Goals of treatment

Different types of adrenal cancer treatments have different goals. The types of treatments and their goals include:

  • Surgery. The goal of surgery is to remove the tumor along with the adrenal gland. Sometimes nearby lymph nodes are also removed. 

  • Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy kills cancer cells using high energy X-rays. This is used to treat any cancer cells left after surgery. Or it is used to treat pain due to tumor growth. It may also be used to treat cancer that can’t be surgically removed.

  • Chemotherapy. The goal of chemotherapy is to kill cancer cells and reduce the chance that the cancer will spread to other parts of the body. Chemotherapy may also be used to treat cancer that has spread to other areas of the body.

  • Medicines to control hormone levels. These medicines help stop excess hormone production, lower the effects of some hormones, or replace hormones. They also ease symptoms caused by hormone imbalances. You may keep taking them after the main treatment is done.

Clinical trials for new treatments

Researchers are always looking for new ways to treat adrenal cancer. These new methods are tested in clinical trials. Before beginning treatment, ask your healthcare provider if there are any clinical trials you should consider.

Talking with your healthcare provider

At first, thinking about treatment options may seem overwhelming. Talk with your doctors, nurses, and loved ones. Make a list of questions. Consider the benefits and possible side effects of each option. Discuss your concerns with your doctor before making a decision.

Deciding on the best plan may take some time. Talk with your healthcare provider about how much time you can take to explore your options. You may want to get another opinion before deciding on your treatment plan. You may also want to have your family and friends be part of this process.

Online Medical Reviewer: Gersten, Todd, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Image reviewed by StayWell art team.
Online Medical Reviewer: LoCicero, Richard, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Stump-Sutliff, Kim, RN, MSN, AOCNS
Date Last Reviewed: 5/1/2018
© 2020 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions.