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Adrenal gland
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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.

Adrenocortical tumours

Supportive therapy drugs may be used to control the symptoms of extra hormone production:

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)
  • ketoconazole
  • metyrapone (Metopirone)
  • spironolactone (Aldactone)

Pheochromocytomas

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:

  • phenoxybenzamine
  • propranolol (Inderal)
  • labetalol
  • metyrosine

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
  • diarrhea
  • malaise
  • leg cramps
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness

For more detailed information on specific drugs, go to sources of drug information.

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