Endocrine Gland Neoplasms

Endocrine glands are present in different parts of the body and are responsible for the secretion of various hormones. The glands of endocrine are commonly referred to as the endocrine system. The endocrine system consists of adrenal glands, hypothalamus, ovaries, pancreas, parathyroid, pineal gland, pituitary gland, testes, thymus and thyroid. The hormones secreted by the endocrine glands are essential in maintaining the balance of the healthy body functions. Endocrine neoplasm refers to the unusual growth of the endocrine glands which are tumors and cancer. The tumors are generally classified depending on the part of the body that is affected, the cell type, and the endocrine gland that is involved. There are several types of endocrine tumors which affect different glands and some of them are adrenal gland tumor, parathyroid tumor, pancreatic cancer, pituitary gland tumor and thyroid cancer.

Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid glands are located on the side of the windpipe and the thyroid hormones are responsible for the regulation of the metabolism. There are four main types of thyroid cancer; papillary thyroid cancer, follicular thyroid cancer, medullary thyroid cancer and anaplastic thyroid cancer. Some of the associated symptoms of thyroid cancer are hoarseness, breathing difficulty, persistent cough, difficulty swallowing and swollen glands of the neck. Most thyroid cancers are curable. In fact, papillary thyroid cancer is one of the most curable types of cancer. The treatment involves surgery, hormone treatment, chemotherapy and radioactive iodine therapy.

Adrenal gland tumor

The two adrenal glands are located one above each kidney. The adrenal cortex is the outer part of the gland which produces three hormones called cortisol, aldosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone which control the metabolism, blood pressure and other features such as hair growth. The adrenal medulla produces epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine balancing the body’s stress. The treatment of adrenal gland tumor is based on the glands ability to produce either excess hormone or none at all. The tumors of adrenal glands are adenoma, adrenocortical carcinoma, neuroblastoma and pheochromocytoma. Some of the associated symptoms of adrenal gland tumor are high blood pressure, panic attacks, low potassium level, heart palpitations, excessive hair growth, diabetes and unusual acne. Diagnosis is based on blood and urine test. In order to assess if the tumor is cancerous, CT and MRI scans are performed. A biopsy may be required if suspected of cancer spreading from other body parts. Treatment options include surgical removal of the gland, hormone therapy and chemotherapy.

Parathyroid cancer

These are located near the thyroid gland in the neck and secrete the parathyroid hormone. This is responsible for the maintenance of calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood. The tumor develops in one of the four parathyroid glands which affect the calcium level in the blood leading to a condition called hypercalcemia. The cause of parathyroid cancer is usually not known but those affected with multiple endocrine neoplasia 1 or familial hyperparathyroidism are at higher risk of developing this cancer. These are the cause of genetic mutation and are rare conditions. Symptoms include tiredness, feeling thirsty, indigestion, muscle weakness, pain in the stomach, mood changes and loss of appetite. Parathyroid cancer is diagnosed with blood or urine tests, ultrasound scans, parathyroid scans, CT and MRI scans. The treatment usually results in surgery or occasionally radiation therapy is recommended.