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Surgery is the primary treatment for adrenal gland cancer. Surgery is used to:
The type of surgery done depends mainly on the type, size and extent of the tumour. Side effects of surgery depend on the type of surgical procedure.
Treatment may be needed before surgery to relieve specific symptoms caused by excessive amounts of hormones. This is particularly important in people who have pheochromocytoma because surgery may cause serious, life-threatening problems if the hormone levels are not well controlled. Treatment is usually given for 2–3 weeks before surgery.
Drugs may need to be continued for some time after surgery. Hormone levels usually return to normal in approximately 2 weeks after surgery.
Adrenalectomy is the surgical removal of the adrenal gland. It is the primary treatment for all stages of adrenal gland cancer.
During a laparoscopic adrenalectomy, the surgeon uses a laparoscope (a flexible tube containing instruments) to remove the adrenal gland. The scope is placed through a small incision in the abdomen or the back. Laparoscopic adrenalectomy:
The stay in hospital following laparoscopic adrenalectomy is usually 2–3 days.
Surgical debulking for advanced adrenal gland cancer is done to remove as much of the tumour as possible. Removal of metastases from the liver and lung may also be done. Removing as much of the tumour as possible will reduce the amount of hormones that are overproduced by the tumour and relieve the symptoms caused by the high hormone levels.
A clinical trial led by the Society’s NCIC Clinical Trials group found that men with prostate cancer who are treated with intermittent courses of hormone therapy live as long as those receiving continuous therapy.