Isolated adrenal mass in patients with a history of cancer: Remember pheochromocytoma

Academic Article


  • Background: In a patient with a history of cancer, an isolated adrenal mass is usually thought to be a metastasis. Although a biochemical work-up to rule out pheochromocytoma is recommended, some question its practicality. This study was undertaken to determine the incidence of functional adrenal lesions in patients with a history of cancer and examine predictive factors for the type of lesion. Methods: At a single institution, 33 patients with an isolated adrenal mass and a history of cancer underwent surgical treatment. Patients' records were retrospectively analyzed for type of adrenal lesion and other diagnostic parameters. Results: There were 20 males and 13 females with a mean age of 58±2 years. Of these, 20 (61%) had adrenal metastases, 8 (24%) had pheochromocytomas, and 5 (15%) had adrenal adenomas. Usual diagnostic criteria, including presenting symptoms, primary tumor, and other demographic characteristics, did not consistently predict the pathology of the lesion. Conclusions: Nearly 1 in 4 resected adrenal masses in patients with a history of cancer were pheochromocytomas. The high incidence of pheochromocytoma in this series supports a thorough work-up, irrespective of previous cancer. Therefore, remember one thing in patients with an isolated adrenal mass and a history of cancer: pheochromocytoma. © 2007 Society of Surgical Oncology.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Adler JT; Mack E; Chen H
  • Start Page

  • 2358
  • End Page

  • 2362
  • Volume

  • 14
  • Issue

  • 8