Unknown primary cancer presenting as an adrenal mass: frequency and implications for diagnostic evaluation of adrenal incidentalomas.

Journal Article (Journal Article;Review)

BACKGROUND: Fine-needle aspiration biopsy to identify adrenal metastasis from an occult primary malignancy has been recommended as part of the evaluation of the patient who presents with an incidentally discovered adrenal mass. This recommendation was assessed by examining the frequency of adrenal involvement in patients with suspected unknown primary cancer. METHODS: Data from 1715 patients referred for evaluation of suspected unknown primary cancer were retrospectively reviewed. RESULTS: Of 1639 patients found to have cancer, the adrenal gland was identified as a site of involvement at presentation in 95 (5.8%). Involvement was limited to the adrenal gland in 4 patients (0.2%). All 4 patients had large (> or = 6 cm) adrenal tumors, 3 of 4 had bilateral involvement, and all had symptoms that otherwise mandated evaluation for an occult malignancy; none had a true adrenal incidentaloma. CONCLUSIONS: Although cancer of an unknown primary site occasionally involves the adrenal gland, metastatic cancer presenting as a true adrenal incidentaloma is extremely rare. Therefore, in the absence of a history of prior malignancy or symptoms, physical examination findings, radiographic findings, or laboratory findings suggestive of an occult malignancy, we do not recommend fine-needle aspiration biopsy as part of the diagnostic evaluation of the patient who presents with a unilateral adrenal mass.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Lee, JE; Evans, DB; Hickey, RC; Sherman, SI; Gagel, RF; Abbruzzese, MC; Abbruzzese, JL

Published Date

  • December 1998

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 124 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 1115 - 1122

PubMed ID

  • 9854592

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0039-6060

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1067/msy.1998.92009


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States