An Adrenal Adenoma is a non-threatening (otherwise known as benign) tumour that is found on the adrenal gland. By standard definition, this condition will normally not cause any problems to one’s health. However, there may be instances where these inactive growths suddenly become active. This can result in additional medical conditions as well as an over-secretion of certain hormones. Before we begin to examine an adrenal adenoma in any great detail, part of understanding this condition will arise from appreciating a basic overview of the purpose of the adrenal glands and their relation to this condition.
These glands sit atop either kidney and have been likened to exhibit a half-moon shape. As their name may denote, thee structures are primarily responsible for a response to stress by the release of hormones. These glands will synthesise different hormones; in particular a hormone known as epinephrine (otherwise more commonly known as adrenaline). While the structure of these glands is quite complex, the most important aspect of the adrenal glands to realise is that a structure called the adrenal cortex is one of the key area that is responsible in producing a variety of stress-related hormones. Thus, any tumour that begins to grow atop the outside of these glands can obviously have an effect on hormone production while possibly threatening nearby organs.
As mentioned earlier, the majority of tumours that are found on the adrenal glands are benign in nature and will not warrant treatment. However, a physician will opt to monitor these growths over time, for there are instances where a benign tumour can become active (malignant). In this case, there will be several options available. These choices will depend on the size of the tumour as well as its location and how fast it is growing.
One of the dangers that may arise if a tumour becomes active is that it can cause the adrenal gland to start producing an excess of hormones. Obviously, this can be a rather precarious condition if left untreated over time. Surgery, medication or both will sometimes be warranted. These options will once again depend on the progression of the tumours and if treated in a timely fashion, the prognosis for this condition is excellent.
It should be appreciated that adrenal adenoma is considered a rather rare illness, thus there is a robust amount of ongoing research that is taking place. This research not only focuses on different treatment options, but it also examines as to whether there are any hereditary, environmental or genetic components involved. Also, the progression in imaging techniques such as the PET scan and the fMRI have allowed for quicker diagnoses and their clarity can often identify any benign tumours well early into their development.
Thankfully, if surgery is required, it generally presents no more risks than other forms of traditional abdominal procedures. The major concern revolves around the use of general anaesthetic. After surgery, patients will normally recover rather quickly, but this will naturally have to do with their age, health and any pre-existing medical conditions.
This is but a general overview of adrenal adenoma. In the following sections, we will take a further look into various aspects of this illness. These will include but are not limited to the symptoms, treatment options, diagnosis and sources for information that can be used for further education on this condition.