Adrenal Gland Tumor: Statistics

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 11/2023

ON THIS PAGE: You will find information about the estimated number of people who will be diagnosed with an adrenal gland tumor each year. You will also read general information on surviving the disease. Remember, survival rates depend on several factors, and no 2 people with a tumor are the same. Use the menu to see other pages.

Every person is different, with different factors influencing their risk of being diagnosed with this tumor and the chance of recovery after a diagnosis. It is important to talk with your doctor about any questions you have around the general statistics provided below and what they may mean for you individually. The original sources for these statistics are provided at the bottom of this page.

How many people are diagnosed with an adrenal gland tumor?

A primary adrenal gland tumor is very uncommon. Each year, an estimated 600 people in the United States are diagnosed with adrenocortical carcinoma. This type of cancer is much less common than an adrenal adenoma, which is a noncancerous tumor that is found most commonly in middle-aged and older adults. The average age of a person diagnosed with an adrenal gland tumor is 46 years. However, these tumors can occur at any age. See the Introduction for more about these types of adrenal gland tumors.

What is the survival rate for an adrenal gland tumor?

There are different types of statistics that can help doctors evaluate a person’s chance of recovery from an adrenal gland tumor. These are called survival statistics. A specific type of survival statistic is called the relative survival rate. It is often used to predict how having a tumor may affect life expectancy. Relative survival rate looks at how likely people with an adrenal gland tumor are to survive for a certain amount of time after their initial diagnosis or start of treatment compared to the expected survival of similar people without this tumor.

Example: Here is an example to help explain what a relative survival rate means. Please note this is only an example and not specific to this type of cancer. Let’s assume that the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific type of cancer is 90%. “Percent” means how many out of 100. Imagine there are 1,000 people without cancer, and based on their age and other characteristics, you expect 900 of the 1,000 to be alive in 5 years.

Also imagine there are another 1,000 people similar in age and other characteristics as the first 1,000, but they all have the specific type of cancer that has a 5-year survival rate of 90%. This means it is expected that 810 of the people with the specific cancer (90% of 900) will be alive in 5 years.

It is important to remember that statistics on the survival rates for people with an adrenal gland tumor are only an estimate. They cannot tell an individual person if the tumor will or will not shorten their life. Instead, these statistics describe trends in groups of people previously diagnosed with the same disease, including specific stages of the disease.

The 5-year relative survival rate for adrenocortical carcinoma in the United States is 50%.

The survival rates for an adrenal gland tumor vary based on several factors. These include the stage of tumor, a person’s age and general health, and how well the treatment plan works. Another factor that can affect outcomes is whether the tumor produces hormones.

If an adrenal gland tumor is diagnosed and treated before it has spread outside the adrenal gland, the 5-year relative survival rate is 74%. In the past, approximately 30% of adrenocortical cancers were diagnosed at this stage. However, advances in imaging tests mean more people with an adrenal gland tumor are now being diagnosed at earlier stages. If the cancer has spread to the surrounding tissues or organs and/or the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year relative survival rate is 54%. If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, the 5-year relative survival rate is 38%.

Experts measure relative survival rate statistics for an adrenal gland tumor every 5 years. This means the estimate may not reflect the results of advancements in how an adrenal gland tumor is diagnosed or treated from the last 5 years. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions about this information. Learn more about understanding statistics.

Statistics adapted from the websites of the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, and the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center. (All sources accessed February 2023.)

The next section in this guide is Risk Factors. It describes the factors that may increase the chance of developing an adrenal gland tumor. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.