Treatment Programs

Adrenal Tumors

Adrenal tumors are treated in the Center for Endocrine Tumors, one of the largest programs of its kind in the country.

Adrenal tumors are treated in the Center for Endocrine Tumors, one of the largest programs of its kind in the country.

About this ProgramThe Center for Endocrine Tumors at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center is a comprehensive program specializing in the treatment of all types of adrenal tumors:

  • Adrenal tumors, nonfunctional (usually benign)
  • Adrenal tumors, functional (usually benign)
    • Aldosteronoma
    • Cushing’s syndrome
    • Pheochromocytoma
    • Sex hormone secreting tumors
  • Adrenal cancer either functioning or non-functioning

Although many adrenal conditions are benign (non-cancerous), our program combines the resources of the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Division of Endocrinology to provide advanced treatment for all patients.

Innovative ApproachesOur program is one of the largest and most specialized in the country in treating adrenal conditions as well as other disorders of the endocrine system. Among the innovations that make our program distinct are:

  • State-of-the art radiology technology for imaging adrenal tumors. These include adrenal protocol CT scans, adrenal protocol MRI scans, MIBG and octreotide radionuclide scans
  • The most advanced endocrinology and radiology testing to determine abnormalities of adrenal function, including bilateral adrenal vein catheterization
  • The most advanced surgical techniques
  • High volume surgical expertise
  • Expertise in molecular diagnostics of adrenal tumors
  • Advanced clinical trials to find better therapies for adrenal cancers

Multidisciplinary Patient CarePatients in the Center for Endocrine Tumors may be cared for by a coordinated team of experts, which include:

  • Endocrinologists with expertise in diagnosing and treating adrenal conditions, including diagnosing those with familial genetic syndromes involving the adrenals and excess production of certain hormones. They also have experience in evaluating incidentally detected adrenal tumors so they can be followed properly long term. They provide care for patients whose adrenal glands have been removed surgically or inhibited with chemotherapy
  • Surgeons who are leading the way in performing and developing the most advanced surgical approaches for adrenal tumors including laparoscopic adrenalectomy and partial (cortical sparing) adrenalectomy
  • Diagnostic and interventional radiologists who utilize an array of medical imaging techniques including MRI, CT scans, ultrasound, adrenal vein catheterization and angiography to locate and biopsy adrenal tumors when indicated. Interventional radiologists who are capable of treating benign and malignant adrenal tumors with radiofrequency ablation in selected cases 
  • Nuclear medicine physicians who utilize radionuclide scans such as MIBG and octreotide to image both benign and malignant
  • Endocrine pathologists who examine fine needle aspiration and core biopsies as well as pathological specimens of adrenal tumors. Molecular diagnostics are used when indicated
  • Endocrine (Medical) oncologists who prescribe the most effective chemotherapy and medications
  • Radiation oncologists who specialize in delivering the optimal therapeutic dose while protecting healthy tissue
  • Support services, including specialized nursing staff, social workers, psychiatrists, nutritionists and others

Laparoscopic surgical removal of an affected adrenal gland is the standard of care in most cases and is highly effective therapy.

Diagnostic ExpertiseImaging tests are most commonly used to evaluate and diagnose adrenal tumors. Our center features the most state-of-the art imaging facilities available, including:

  • Ultrasound
  • MRI
  • CT scan
  • PET/CT scan
  • MIBG scan: a specialty technology that is used to detect adrenal pheochromocytomas, extra-adrenal pheochromocytomas (paragangliomas) and metastatic pheochromocytomas. Octreotide scanning is also used for extra-adrenal paragangliomas particularly those of the head and neck
  • Angiography and adrenal venous sampling

Excellence in Surgical CareAdrenal surgery has been revolutionized with the development of operative laparoscopy, a minimally invasive approach that removes the affected gland while minimizing post-operative pain and overall recovery time. Our surgeons conduct a high volume of these procedures and research has shown that outcomes improve when patients are treated in high volume facilities.

Treating Cancer through Clinical TrialsThe Center for Endocrine Tumors is conducting clinical trials for patients with advanced endocrine cancers, and the adrenal tumor center is active in clinical research, with collaborative studies involving surgery, medical endocrinology, radiology and pathology.

View our open clinical trials

Developing Better Therapies through ResearchOur physician researchers are leading or participating in clinical trials to advance therapies for adrenal gland conditions and to improve the lives of all our patients.

Adrenal Tumors / Pheochromocytoma

Tumors of the adrenal glands can cause many problems by excess secretion of certain adrenal-produced hormones, most often resulting in high blood pressure, which can be extreme.

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program focuses on improving the quality of life and well-being of Cancer Center patients, their families and friends through free wellness services such as acupuncture and yoga. These services help you take care of your whole self — mind, body and spirit.

Illuminations Program

Illuminations is a rotating art exhibit displayed in the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. The program aims to enlighten and encourage patients and their loved ones by enhancing our environment of care.

Home Disconnect

A home infusion pump may be part of your treatment plan. In some cases, you may have the option for disconnecting the chemotherapy from home. If this option applies to you, and you would prefer to disconnect from home, this instructional video will reinforce the teaching provided to you by your nurse in the Mass General cancer Center

The following related clinical trials and research studies are currently seeking participants at Massachusetts General Hospital. Search for clinical trials and studies in another area of interest.

Could a ban on large sugary drinks be effective?

Christina Scirica, MD, MPH, a MassGeneral Hospital for Children pulmonologist and weight expert, answers questions on the potential effectiveness of the New York City ban on the sale of sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces at restaurants, delis, sports facilities, and street vendors that was passed September 7, 2012.

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program focuses on improving the quality of life and well-being of Cancer Center patients, their families and friends through free wellness services such as acupuncture and yoga. These services help you take care of your whole self — mind, body and spirit.

Illuminations Program

Illuminations is a rotating art exhibit displayed in the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. The program aims to enlighten and encourage patients and their loved ones by enhancing our environment of care.

Home Disconnect

A home infusion pump may be part of your treatment plan. In some cases, you may have the option for disconnecting the chemotherapy from home. If this option applies to you, and you would prefer to disconnect from home, this instructional video will reinforce the teaching provided to you by your nurse in the Mass General cancer Center

Cancer Center

55 Fruit Street
Boston, MA 02114

Phone: 617-726-5130

Discover the Cancer Center patient experience

Our approach to patient care unites cancer specialists across the hospital to create a personalized treatment plan for each patient, ensuring the best possible outcomes.