Metastatic virilizing adrenocortical carcinoma: a rare case of cure with surgery and mitotane therapy

Clin Med Res. 2009 Jun;7(1-2):48-51. doi: 10.3121/cmr.2009.821.


A 57-year-old white woman with metastases to lungs and liver from virilizing adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) was treated with radical nephroadrenalectomy followed by oral mitotane 3 to 6 g/day for 5 months. She developed complete response and remained free of disease for more than 25 years. Here we present the case and review the literature. ACC is a rare tumor and may occur at any age. About 60% are functional tumors with hormonal secretions and clinical manifestations due to specific hormone secretions: Cushing's syndrome due to cortisone, virilizing tumor due to androgens, feminizing tumor due to estrogens, or hypertension due to aldosterone. Stage I and II disease is curable with surgery. Stage III and IV disease may benefit from mitotane orally with gradual adjustment of the dosage to a tolerable level. Plasma mitotane level at 14 to 20 g/L results in optimal response both in hormonal secretion and symptom control, as well as tumor regression. Addition of chemotherapy (streptozotocin or a combination of etoposide, cisplatin and doxorubicin) to mitotane also produced responses along with increased survival among responders. An international study has been started by randomizing between two of the above combinations by the Collaborative Group for Adrenocortical Carcinoma Treatment.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocortical Carcinoma / diagnosis*
  • Adrenocortical Carcinoma / drug therapy*
  • Adrenocortical Carcinoma / surgery*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal / therapeutic use*
  • Combined Modality Therapy / methods
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitotane / therapeutic use*
  • Prognosis
  • Remission Induction
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Hormonal
  • Mitotane