• National Cancer Institute
  • National Human Genome Research Institute

Adrenocortical CarcinomaRSS

Last Updated: November 15, 2013

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What is adrenocortical carcinoma?

Adrenocortical carcinoma is a rare cancer that develops in the outer layer of tissue of the adrenal glands, organs that lie on top of each kidney. The outer layer of the adrenal gland, called the adrenal cortex, produces important hormones called steroids that help the body deal with stress, regulate blood pressure and the amount of salt in the blood, as well as cause the body to acquire masculine or feminine characteristics.1 A tumor of the adrenal cortex can produce either no hormones or excess hormones.

In the U.S., an estimated 300 people are diagnosed with adrenocortical carcinoma each year.1 If detected at an early stage, this type of cancer can often be successfully treated. However, almost 70 percent of people are diagnosed with advanced adrenocortical carcinoma.2 For patients at the latest stage of this cancer, less than 20 percent survive five years after diagnosis.

View additional information on adrenocortical carcinoma.

Adrenocortical carcinoma is part of an effort to characterize rare tumor types. Read more about the Rare Tumor Projects.

What types of discoveries about adrenocortical carcinoma do The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) researchers hope to make?

  • Develop a robust and clinically useful classification of adrenocortical carcinoma
  • Map the genomic alterations that occur as adrenocortical carcinoma develops and progresses from low- to high-grade tumors
  • Identify novel pathways and therapeutic targets involved in adrenocortical carcinoma
  • Determine patterns in genomic changes that predict patient response to therapy, including chemotherapy and the drug mitotane
  • Investigate potential correlations between the genomics of adrenocortical carcinoma and that of other diseases related to hormone imbalance, such as Cushing syndrome and Conn’s syndrome

Where can I find more information about the TCGA Research Network's studies, or studies using TCGA data?

View a list of TCGA scientific publications.

Where can I find clinical trials to treat adrenocortical carcinoma that are supported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI)?


View a list of NCI-supported adrenocortical carcinoma clinical trials that are now accepting patients.


Selected References 

1  American Cancer Society. (2012). Adrenal Cancer. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003081-pdf.pdf.

2 Phan AT. (2007) Adrenal cortical carcinoma—review of current knowledge and treatment practices. Hematol Oncol Clin N Am. 21(3):489–507.