Adrenal Gland Tumor: After Treatment

This section has been reviewed and approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 04/2014

ON THIS PAGE: You will read about your medical care after treatment is finished and why this follow-up care is important. To see other pages, use the menu on the side of your screen.

After treatment for an adrenal gland tumor ends, talk with your doctor about developing a follow-up care plan. This plan may include regular physical examinations and/or medical tests to monitor your recovery for the coming months and years.

If the adrenal gland that did not have the tumor is still working correctly after surgery, it should be able to provide enough of the hormones needed by the body. Sometimes, a person needs hormone replacement therapy, such as steroids, because the body can’t produce enough hormones. Over time, the person often can decrease the dosage and even stop taking the hormone replacement drug. An endocrinologist, a doctor who specializes in the endocrine system, should carefully monitor this process.

The endocrine system is a complex collection of hormone-producing glands that control many essential functions. If both adrenal glands have been removed, long-term medication is needed to replace the hormones normally produced by these glands, and you should wear a medical-alert bracelet to inform health care professionals of your condition in case you ever become sick or unconscious and are unable to do so.   

Follow-up care may include imaging scans and blood/urine tests every year. For some people who’ve had an adrenal gland tumor, the risk of developing a tumor in the other gland is 10% or higher. Because of this, people treated for an adrenal gland tumor may need regular check-ups with an endocrinologist to monitor recovery and detect any new tumor growth. In particular, adrenal cortical carcinoma can grow and spread quickly. Because it is rare, a person may want to participate in a clinical trial at a medical center with experience treating and monitoring this type of cancer. Talk with your doctor about locating these studies.

ASCO offers treatment summary forms to help keep track of the treatment you received and develop a survivorship care plan once treatment is complete.

People recovering from an adrenal gland tumor are encouraged to follow established guidelines for good health, such as maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, limiting alcohol, eating a balanced diet, and having recommended cancer screening tests. Talk with your doctor to develop a plan that is best for your needs. Moderate physical activity can help rebuild your strength and energy level. Your doctor can help you create an appropriate exercise plan based upon your needs, physical abilities, and fitness level. Learn more about the next steps to take in survivorship, including making positive lifestyle changes.

The next section offers a list of questions you may want to ask. Use the menu on the side of your screen to select Questions to Ask the Doctor, or you can select another section, to continue reading this guide.