American Association of Clinical Endocrinology Disease State Clinical Review on the Evaluation and Management of Adrenocortical Carcinoma in an Adult: a Practical Approach

Endocr Pract. 2020 Nov;26(11):1366-1383. doi: 10.4158/DSCR-2020-0567. Epub 2020 Dec 14.


Objective: The aim of this Disease State Clinical Review is to provide a practical approach to patients with newly diagnosed adrenocortical carcinoma, as well as to follow-up and management of patients with persistent or recurrent disease.

Methods: This is a case-based clinical review. The provided recommendations are based on evidence available from randomized prospective clinical studies, cohort studies, cross-sectional and case-based studies, and expert opinions.

Results: Adrenocortical carcinoma is a rare malignancy, often with poor outcomes. For any patient with an adrenal mass suspicious for adrenocortical carcinoma, the approach should include prompt evaluation with detailed history and physical exam, imaging, and biochemical adrenal hormone assessment. In addition to adrenal-focused imaging, patients should be evaluated with chest-abdomen-pelvis cross-sectional imaging to define the initial therapy plan. Patients with potentially resectable disease limited to the adrenal gland should undergo en bloc open surgery by an expert surgeon. For patients presenting with advanced or recurrent disease, a multidisciplinary approach considering curative repeat surgery, local control with surgery, radiation therapy or radiofrequency ablation, or systemic therapy with mitotane and/or cytotoxic chemotherapy is recommended.

Conclusion: As most health care providers will rarely encounter a patient with adrenocortical carcinoma, we recommend that patients with suspected adrenocortical carcinoma be evaluated by an expert multidisciplinary team which includes clinicians with expertise in adrenal tumors, including endocrinologists, oncologists, surgeons, radiation oncologists, pathologists, geneticists, and radiologists. We recommend that patients in remote locations be followed by the local health care provider in collaboration with a multidisciplinary team at an expert adrenal tumor program.

Abbreviations: ACC = adrenocortical carcinoma; ACTH = adrenocorticotropic hormone; BRACC = borderline resectable adrenocortical carcinoma; CT = computed tomography; DHEAS = dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate; EDP = etoposide, doxorubicin, cisplatin; FDG = 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose; FNA = fine-needle aspiration; HU = Hounsfield units; IVC = inferior vena cava; LFS = Li-Fraumeni syndrome; MEN1 = multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1; MRI = magnetic resonance imaging; OAC = oncocytic adrenocortical carcinoma; PC = palliative care; PET = positron emission tomography.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Adrenal Cortex Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms*
  • Adrenocortical Carcinoma* / diagnostic imaging
  • Adrenocortical Carcinoma* / therapy
  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Mitotane / therapeutic use
  • Prospective Studies
  • United States


  • Mitotane