Detection and Diagnosis

Most adrenal cancers are discovered by chance on an imaging test that was done for another health reason. However, if you experience any of the known symptoms it is worth contacting your physician. They will provide an examination and order additional tests like blood and urine tests if they are concerned.

If you are at risk for adrenal cancer, or have been diagnosed, your physician may refer you to our multidisciplinary clinic. Here patients can conveniently interact with several specialists in one visit.

Our team works together to provide an accurate diagnosis and to create the best treatment plan. When there are options, we will guide you in deciding which treatment pathway is right for you. Our multidisciplinary team includes:

  • Urologists
  • Medical oncologists
  • Radiation oncologists
  • Oncology nurses
  • Genetic counselors 
  • Dietitians

Early diagnosis and treatment offer the best outcomes. GW Cancer Center offers the following diagnostic tests for adrenal cancer:

Biopsy: Using laparoscopy (a thin tube with light and camera inserted through a tiny cut in the patient’s side) we remove a small piece of tissue and examine it under the microscope to see if there are cancer cells. We may also check nearby lymph nodes to see if the cancer has spread and to determine the scope (stage) of the cancer.

Blood tests: We take a sample of blood to examine whether there are high levels of:

  • Cortisol (a hormone made by the adrenal gland)
  • Aldosterone (a substance created by adrenal cancer tumors)
  • Estrogen (in women) or testosterone-type hormones (in men)

Imaging studies: Studies, such as X-rays, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scans, positron emission tomography (PET) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) take internal pictures of the body to detect cancerous growths.

Urinalysis: We will examine your urine for the presence of excess hormones.