Adrenal Gland Cancer
While benign (non-cancerous) tumors in the adrenal gland are very common, cancers in or around this gland are very rare. They are found in only 1 or 3 per 1 million people. These tumors can give off too much cortisol or other hormones.
What Happens Under Normal Conditions?
The adrenal glands are found above each kidney. They are triangle-shaped, and measure about half an inch in height and 3 inches in length. Each adrenal gland has 2 layers.
- The adrenal medulla (inner part) makes epinephrine (also called adrenaline).
- The adrenal cortex (outer part) makes steroid hormones (such as cortisone and aldosterone).
The adrenal glands control many processes in the body. Their job is to keep the body in balance by making various hormones that are critical for maintaining good health.
These hormones do many important things. For example, they help regulate fluid and salt levels in the body that affect blood volume and blood pressure. They also help the body react to stress and change. They cause a faster heart rate and boost other systems that help you to react quickly with a burst of energy when needed. Problems in the cortex or the medulla, then, can result in high blood pressure.