Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Adrenal cancer risk factors

As with many types of cancer, the risk of developing adrenal cancer may be increased by certain lifestyle behaviors and environmental factors, such as smoking and exposure to carcinogens. Additionally, genetic syndromes have been linked to the development of adrenal cancer.

cancer risks

Adrenal cancer risk factors

Age: Pheochromocytoma is a very rare form of adrenal cancer, largely occurring in middle-aged adults. Cases characterized by early onset of the disease in children suggest a hereditary link. Most adrenal pheochromocytomas are benign tumors and they typically do not spread. However, the tumors tend to produce dangerous levels of certain hormones, increasing the risks associated with high blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmias. Less than 10 percent of all neuroblastomas are found in adults. Neuroendocrine tumors often occur on developing nerve cells and are typically found in children and infants. These tumors most frequently originate within the adrenal medulla, the center of the adrenal gland.

Genetic syndromes: Genetic syndromes have been linked to the development of adrenal cancer, although certain hereditary factors are more closely associated with childhood cancers. However, most adrenal cancers occur sporadically. Triggers for the disease remain largely unknown.

Some genetic syndromes that are considered risk factors for adrenal cancer include:

  • Li-Fraumeni syndrome
  • Von Hippel-Lindau disease
  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 and 2 (MEN1, MEN2)
  • Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome

Smoking: Tobacco use may increase the risk of developing adrenal cancer.

Understanding risk factors

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer. Not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. If you think you may be at risk, you should discuss it with your doctor.

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