About Adrenal Nodules and Tumors

Your endocrine system is a set of organs and glands that produce hormones, which your tissues use to send signals to each other. The adrenal glands sit on top of both of your kidneys and secrete hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, which regulate your body’s stress response, circulatory system, and metabolism. Growths known as nodules and tumors are often discovered on the adrenal gland during CT scans of the abdomen performed for other reasons. These are usually not cancerous and may not have any effect on your health. If an adrenal nodule or tumor is identified, your doctor will seek more information about its effect on your hormones and its potential to spread to determine whether and how your condition should be addressed.

Types of Adrenal Nodules and Tumors

Adrenal nodules and tumors are classified based on their characteristics and whether they are benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Most adrenal nodules and tumors are noncancerous.

Types of adrenal nodules and tumors include:

  • Adrenal adenoma: Most common form of adrenal gland tumor, these noncancerous masses develop on the outer part of the adrenal gland
  • Adrenocortical carcinoma: Malignant tumor that forms on the outer part of the adrenal gland
  • Neuroblastoma: A form of cancer that is most common in children and may develop in nervous system tissue within the inner portion of the adrenal gland (adrenal medulla)
  • Pheochromocytoma: Tumor that forms on the adrenal medulla, which is usually benign

Symptoms of Adrenal Nodules and Tumors

Symptoms of adrenal nodules and tumors may vary, and if a nodule or tumor does not affect hormone secretion, it may not cause any symptoms.

Symptoms of adrenal nodules and tumors may include:

  • Anxiety or irritability
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular menstrual period
  • Loss of bone density
  • Low potassium
  • Muscle weakness

Risk Factors for Adrenal Nodules and Tumors

Certain people are at greater risk for developing adrenal nodules or tumors.

Risk factors for adrenal nodules and tumors may include:

  • Family history: Inherited genetic conditions, such as McCune Albright syndrome, multiple endocrine neoplasm type 1, and hereditary bilateral adrenal adenoma, are associated with adrenal adenomas.

Treating Adrenal Nodules and Tumors at UT Health Austin

Many noncancerous adrenal nodules and tumors do not require treatment unless the growth disrupts hormonal secretion or is malignant (cancerous). Adrenal nodule and tumor treatment at UT Health Austin begins with a consultation in which an endocrine surgeon will evaluate the extent of your condition and determine whether it is best addressed using surgery or some other method. Your care team will work with you to determine the best course of treatment.

Care Team Approach

At UT Health Austin, we take a multidisciplinary approach to your care. This means you will benefit from the expertise of multiple specialists across a variety of disciplines caring for you in one place to avoid having to schedule multiple appointments with providers at locations all over the city. The Surgical Oncology Clinic care team includes fellowship-trained cancer surgeons that are nationally recognized leaders at the forefront of their field as well as physical therapists, dietitians, social workers, and more as well as other members of the CaLM Care Team who work together to help you get back to the things in your life that matter most to you.

Through our Multidisciplinary Case Conferences, we collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to identify new therapies to improve cancer treatment. We also work closely with your referring provider and the Livestrong Cancer Institutes to provide integrated, whole-person care. We focus on applying advanced surgical techniques, including robotic and laparoscopic surgery and other minimally invasive approaches, in combination with comprehensive attention to your complex needs, including nutrition, physical therapy, psychosocial wellbeing, and financial support. Advanced imaging and lab testing are also available on-site if needed.

Learn More About Your Care Team

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1601 Trinity Street, Bldg. A, Austin, Texas 78712
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Surgical Oncology

Health Transformation Building, 8th Floor
1601 Trinity Street, Bldg. A, Austin, Texas 78712
1-833-UT-CARES (1-833-882-2737)
Get Directions