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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 functional 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 problems of 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 caregivers 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 with 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 enroll in a clinical trial at a medical center with experience treating and monitoring this type of cancer.
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, 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.
Find out more about common terms used after treatment is complete.