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Clinical Features of Adrenocortical Neoplasms

Journal of the Korean Pediatric Society 1997;40(5):680-689.
Published online May 15, 1997.
Clinical Features of Adrenocortical Neoplasms
Jung-Eun Lee1, So-Chung Chung1, Duk-Hi Kim1, Ho-Sung Kim2
1Department of Pediatrics, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
2Department of Pediatrics, Ewha University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
소아 부신 피질 종양의 임상적 고찰
이정은1, 정소정1, 김덕희1, 김호성2
1연세대학교 의과대학 소아과학교실
2이화의대 목동병원 소아과
: Adrenocortical tumors are uncommon in children and comprise only a small proportion of primary adrenal neoplasms. The biologic behavior of these tumors may be very difficult to predict, and their rarity has hindered identification of clinical characteristics. Patients with functioning tumors have excessive steroid hormone production, and the clinical manifestation depends on the predominant hormone produced. The detection of nonfunctioning tumors is not easy and the diagnosis may be delayed. Benign tumors can be cured by complete surgical excision, but malignant cases have poor response to treatment and worse prognosis. Early diagnosis and proper management are very important because of the large proportion of functioning malignant tumors in children. We report clinical features of adrenocortical tumors in children that may be of help in the early detection, proper management, and assessment of prognosis of patients.
: We reviewed the clinical characteristics of 14 cases of adrenocortical tumors, among 85 children diagnosed with adrenal tumors, who visited the Severance Hospital, College of Medicine, Yonsei University, from January 1970 to July 1996.
: 85 Patients were diagnosed with adrenal tumors. Among them, 71 cases 83.5%) were tumors of the adrenal medulla, neuroblastoma and pheochromocytoma, and 14 cases(16.5%) were adrenocortical tumors, consisting of 5 cases of adenoma, 7 cases of carcinoma, and 2 cases unspecified. The age distribution ranged from 16 months to 14 years of age, and the mean was 5 years & 11 months (median 4 years & 2 months). Sex distribution revealed a male to female ratio of 1:1.33. The left to right ratio was 3.7:1, showing a left side predominance. 13 Cases(92.9%) were functioning tumors: 12 cases(92.3%) had clinical evidence of androgen excess, among which 6 cases(46.2%) were associated with Cushing's syndrome, and 1 case was compatible with primary aldosteronism. Serum cortisol, urinary 17-ketosteroids and 17-hydroxycorticosteroids concentrations were measured in 11 cases and urinary concentrations of 17-ketosteroids were elevated in all 11 cases(100%), while 17-hydroxycorticosteroids were elevated in 4 cases(36.4%). Abnormalities of serum cortisol were found in all cases except 1: serum cortisol concentrations were abnormally elevated in 5 cases(45.5%), and the remainder(5 cases, 45.5%) showed loss of diurnal variation. Dexamethasone suppression test was performed in 9 cases, and all(100%) showed no suppression. Preoperative radiologic studies included abdominal sonograms, CT or MRI scans, and angiography. Histology showed carcinomas to be bigger and heavier than adenomas, and microscopically carcinomas had necrosis, calcifications, and invasions of vessels. Distant metastases were found in 4 cases(12.7%). Adrenalectomy with complete surgical excision was performed in 12 cases. Long-term follow-up was possible in 10 patients after operation: 3 patients initially diagnosed with adenoma survived without tumor recurrence over a year, and among 6 carcinoma patients, 4 expired within a year, and 2 survived, with one patient currently undergoing postoperative chemotherapy. Of the 10 patients currently undergoing follow-up, one patient was initially diagnosed with a histologically unspecified tumor, and has survived 4 years after operation.
: When adrenocortical neoplasms are suspected by clinical symptoms and laboratory findings, abdominal ultrasonogram, CT or MRI scans must be performed immediately. Early detection and proper management are important for better prognosis, but are often delayed in the majority of cases. Ultimately, pediatricians need to be familiar with clinical characteristics and laboratory findings of adrenocortical tumors, bearing in mind the possibility of diagnosis in children.
Key Words: Adrenocortical tumors, Cushing syndrome, Hyperaldosteronism

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