Adrenal Gland Tumor: Symptoms and Signs

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 10/2022

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about the changes and medical problems that can be a sign of an adrenal gland tumor. Use the menu to see other pages.

What are the symptoms and signs of an adrenal gland tumor?

People with an adrenal gland tumor may experience one or more of the following symptoms or signs. Symptoms are changes that you can feel in your body. Signs are changes in something measured, like taking your blood pressure or doing a lab test. Together, symptoms and signs can help describe a medical problem. Sometimes, people with an adrenal gland tumor do not have any of the symptoms and signs described below. Or, the cause of a symptom or sign may be a medical condition that is not a tumor.

  • High blood pressure

  • Low potassium level

  • Heart palpitations

  • Nervousness

  • Feelings of anxiety or panic attacks

  • Headache

  • Heavy sweating/perspiration

  • Diabetes

  • Abdominal pain

  • Unexplained weight gain or weight loss

  • Weakness

  • Abdominal stretch marks

  • Excessive hair growth

  • Changes in the genitals

  • Unusual acne

  • Change in libido (sex drive)

In addition, the specific tumor type of pheochromocytoma may cause dangerous surges of the hormones that regulate blood pressure and the body’s response to stress. A hormonal surge can cause blood pressure to rise very quickly, increasing the risk of a heart attack, stroke, hemorrhage, or sudden death.

If you are concerned about any changes you experience, please talk with your doctor. Your doctor will try to understand what is causing your symptom(s). They may do an exam and order tests to understand the cause of the problem, which is called a diagnosis.

If a tumor is diagnosed, relieving symptoms remains an important part of medical care and treatment. Managing symptoms may also be called "palliative and supportive care," which is not the same as hospice care given at the end of life. This type of care focuses on managing symptoms and supporting people who face serious illnesses, such as a tumor. You can receive palliative and supportive care at any time during treatment. Learn more in this guide’s section on Coping with Treatment.

Be sure to talk with your health care team about symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

The next section in this guide is Diagnosis. It explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.