Incidental, Solitary, and Unilateral Adrenal Metastasis as the Initial Manifestation of Lung Adenocarcinoma

Cureus. 2022 Dec 17;14(12):e32628. doi: 10.7759/cureus.32628. eCollection 2022 Dec.


An adrenal incidentaloma is an adrenal mass ≥ 1 cm in size discovered on imaging performed for indications other than suspected adrenal disease. It has variable etiologies, which can be benign or malignant, including primary or metastatic disease. We present a rare case of metastatic lung adenocarcinoma with isolated unilateral adrenal metastases, presenting as an adrenal incidentaloma in an asymptomatic patient with no known history of malignancy. A 76-year-old man with a past medical history of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and heavy tobacco use was admitted for the evaluation and treatment of pneumonia. He was found to have an incidental 4.6 cm unilateral adrenal mass on his CT chest. He underwent a workup for the mass, including further imaging studies that were indeterminate and a hormonal workup that concluded that the mass was nonfunctional. Due to the patient's comorbidities, it was determined that he was not a surgical candidate. A multidisciplinary team recommended a biopsy, which revealed metastatic lung adenocarcinoma. The primary lung cancer was located using positron emission tomography with 2-deoxy-2-(fluorine-18) fluoro-D-glucose combined with computed tomography (F-FDG-PET/CT). The patient was evaluated by an oncology service and started on chemotherapy. In this case report, we discuss the approach for evaluating adrenal incidentalomas as well as the role the biopsy has in this process based on a literature review. In addition, we draw a comparison between our case and similar cases in the literature while highlighting the differences that make this case unique.

Keywords: adrenal biopsy; adrenal incidentaloma; adrenal metastasis; lung adenocarcinoma; metastatic adenocarcinoma.

Publication types

  • Case Reports