Adrenocortical Carcinoma | Symptoms & Causes

What are the symptoms of adrenocortical carcinoma?

The most common symptoms of adrenocortical carcinoma include a palpable abdominal mass and adrenocortical hormone overproduction. In those born male, this hormonal overproduction may cause:

  • premature puberty with enlargement of the penis and scrotum
  • premature growth and increase in muscle mass
  • pubic hair
  • acne
  • deepening voice

In those born female, it can cause:

  • premature appearance of pubic and underarm hair
  • clitoral enlargement
  • acne
  • deepening voice
  • premature increase in growth
  • lack of appropriate breast development
  • delayed menstrual cycle

About 10 percent of patients have signs of Cushing syndrome, including a round face, double chin, generalized obesity, growth failure and hypertension.

What causes adrenocortical carcinoma?

It is important to understand that tumors often emerge with no known cause. Many may result from the combined effects of genetic and environmental factors.

Some cancers are caused by inherited conditions. Disorders associated with pheochromocytomas include neurofibromatosis, von Hippel-Lindau disease, multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) syndromes, tuberous sclerosis, Sturge-Weber syndrome, and ataxia-telangiectasia.

Adrenocortical carcinomas are often linked to genetic conditions, most often Li-Fraumeni syndrome. About 50-to-80 percent of pediatric ACC patients have this syndrome. Other related conditions include MEN1, Lynch syndrome, Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, and hemihypertrophy.