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Supportive therapy for adrenal gland cancer
Supportive therapy manages the symptoms caused by an adrenal gland tumour, but it does not actively treat the tumour. People with functioning adrenal gland tumours require treatment to manage the symptoms caused by hormone overproduction.
Supportive therapy drugs may be used to control the symptoms of extra hormone production:
- before surgery in benign or early stage adrenocortical tumours
- for recurrent, advanced or metastatic adrenocortical carcinoma
Drugs that may be given for adrenocortical tumours to block the actions of the hormones include:
- mitotane (Lysodren) – a chemotherapy drug that may be used to lower hormone production
- aminoglutethimide (Cytadren)
- metyrapone (Metopirone)
- spironolactone (Aldactone)
Supportive therapy for pheochromocytoma is used to control high blood pressure and irregular heart rhythms caused by overproduction of hormones. Both benign and malignant pheochromocytoma tumours cause excessive amounts of hormones called catecholamines.
People with a pheochromocytoma tumour must have their blood pressure and heart rhythms return to normal before they can have surgery.
Drugs that may be given for pheochromocytoma to block the actions of the hormones include:
- propranolol (Inderal)
Hormone replacement therapy
Hormone replacement therapy may be needed after surgery if:
- the remaining adrenal gland still functions, but can’t produce enough hormones
- The person can usually be weaned off the hormone replacement drug as the hormone levels return to normal.
- both adrenal glands have been removed
- The person will need long-term hormone replacement therapy.
Possible side effects
Possible side effects of supportive therapy drugs include:
- nausea and vomiting
- leg cramps
For more detailed information on specific drugs, go to sources of drug information.
Facing the financial burden of cancer
The Canadian Cancer Society provides helpful information about government income programs, financial resources and other resources available to families struggling to make sense of the personal financial burden they face.