As you can understand the name, the adrenal tumor is a type of a tumor that occurs in the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are one of the many glands that constitute your endocrine system and are situated in a position just above the kidneys. The adrenal glands are differentiable into two different parts. One of them is the cortex and the other part is known as medulla. Both of these parts secrete hormones but they differ in their roles. The hormones released by the cortex region are mainly responsible for all the metabolic activities going into your body and also affects the blood pressure and body shape. The hormones released by the medulla affects your body in a completely different way. They control how your body responds to stress. So, when a person suffers from an adrenal tumor, the hormone release of that person is adversely affected.
Which hormones are affected when a person has an adrenal tumor?
The following hormones are affected when there is a tumor in the adrenal gland:
The main function that cortisol plays is to prepare your body to handle stress and help it recover from conditions like infection and other stresses. But when there is an adrenal tumor, this function is hampered.
The main component for maintaining a good level of sodium and potassium level is aldosterone and thus this hormone has the capability to affect blood pressure as well and maintains a proper level of electrolytes and fluids in the body.
Catecholamines like norepinephrine and epinephrine control the body’s stress related activities. They have the capability to make your blood pressure levels rise up to a maximum.
Does having an adrenal tumor mean you have cancertoo?
Having adrenal tumor does not necessarily mean that it is cancerous. There are three types of adrenal tumors.
Malignant tumors –
These are the tumors that are actually cancerous. They are found to be adrenal cortical carcinomas by scientists. These tumors are usually triggered by the presence of certain genetic characters.They are quite rare.
Functional tumors –
These kinds of tumors are usually non-cancerous, however, in certain cases, they are found to be malignant. These tumors continue producing hormones.
Benign tumors –
These tumors are non-cancerous so unlike malignant tumors, they don’t divide indefinitely. Many of then do not secrete any hormones and hence are usually detected incidentally while doing a scan for some other reason.
What are the symptoms noticed when you have an adrenal tumor?
The symptoms noticed when a person has an adrenal tumor depends largely on the type of a tumor that the person has. However, some of the common symptoms include rising of the blood pressure level and potassium levels becoming considerable low. Nervousness, heart palpitations, headache, an unexplained gain of weight, weakness, the unnatural and excessive growth of hair on the body, acne, and a sudden change in libido are some of the commons symptoms.
So, if you are facing these symptoms, you must undergo a diagnosis to check whether you are suffering from an adrenal tumor or not.
Authored By Dr G Parthasarathy - Surgical Gastroenterologist, Hyderabad