Adrenal Cancer


Adrenal cancer is a rare cancer that develops in the small, triangular glands located on top of your kidneys (adrenal glands). Your kidneys are located deep inside the upper part of your abdomen. Adrenal glands produce hormones that give instructions to virtually every organ and tissue in your body.

General information

Adrenal cancer is often aggressive. When found early, adrenal cancer can be cured. But if the cancer has spread to areas beyond the adrenal gland, cure becomes less likely.

Symptoms depend on the type of cancer you have, but the most common tumor is known as the adrenocortical carcinoma. This is a rare tumor that afflicts only one or two persons per million. It usually occurs in adults, and the median age at diagnosis is 44 years. Only 30% of these malignancies are confined to the adrenal gland at the time of diagnosis. Because these tumors tend to be found years after they began growing, they have the opportunity to invade nearby organs, spread to distant organs (metastasize), and cause numerous changes in the body because of the excess hormones they produce.

X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and laboratory tests including blood and urine analyses all may be used to diagnose the disease. Treatments may include surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. Treatment can be used to delay progression or recurrence.

Social Security Administration POMS DI 23022.090 — Adrenal Cancer.

Adrenal cancer is listed under the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Compassionate Allowance Program, which was launched in 2008 to expedite certain disability claims. Applying for disability benefits under the Compassionate Allowance Program requires the same procedure every applicant must follow when applying for SSA disability benefits; however, you will be notified if your condition is being considered as a compassionate allowance.

The five-year survival rate for inoperable or unresectable tumors is less than 10%. Adrenal cancer that is inoperable, unresectable, recurrent, or with metastases, meets Social Security Medical Listing 13.21.

Your representative may be able to help expedite your disability claim if you have a diagnosis of adrenal cancer.