The Spread of Lung Cancer to the Adrenal Glands

When the cancer is diagnosed, up to one-fourth of all people with lung cancer may have no symptoms. These cancers typically are identified incidentally when a chest x-ray is made for another reason.

Lung cancer can either spread locally and involve nearby tissues, for example the cavity outside the lungs, layers around the heart, or may travel to distant locations like local lymph glands or the bones, liver, brain or the opposite lung. Other organs where cancer of lung tends to spread are the adrenal glands, which are the glands placed above the kidneys and which generate special hormones.

The most general tumor of the adrenal gland is in fact a benign tumor called an adrenal adenoma. In a good number of patients, these benign tumors never lead to a patient to have any symptoms and do not require to be treated. They are typically found when a patient has a CT (or CAT) scan of the body for an unconnected reason, and are hence sometimes called "incidentalomas".

The most general malignant tumors located in the adrenal gland are tumors that originate from cancer cells that have metastasized from other areas of the body to the adrenal gland by means of the blood stream. Some different kinds of cancer may spread to the glands of adrenal, most usually melanomas, lung cancers, and breast cancers.

In short, If cancerous cells break away from the original tumor, travel, and develop within other body parts-like the brain, liver, the opposite lung, bone, adrenal glands, or lymph nodes of the chest or collarbone (clavicle) regions- the process is recognized as metastasis.

Symptoms of metastatic lung tumors rely on the location and size. About 30% -40% of people with cancer of lung have a number of symptoms or signs of metastatic disease. Metastatic lung cancer in the glands usually causes no symptoms by the time of diagnosis as well.