Adrenalectomy for a solitary adrenal metastasis from lung cancer

Ann Thorac Surg. 1998 Feb;65(2):331-5. doi: 10.1016/s0003-4975(97)01284-8.


Background: Several case reports have shown that patients with truly solitary adrenal gland metastases can undergo resection with long-term survival.

Methods: We assessed consecutive patients with operable or operated non-small cell lung cancer in whom the presence of a unilateral solitary adrenal metastasis was confirmed histologically. Synchronous homolateral adrenal metastases were resected at the same time as the non-small cell lung carcinoma through a transphrenic approach. Synchronous contralateral or metachronous adrenal metastases were resected through an elective approach.

Results: Of 598 patients with operable or operated non-small cell lung carcinoma, 11 had a unilateral solitary adrenal gland metastasis and underwent adrenalectomy with no additional mortality or morbidity. One patient died of late postoperative complications and 7 patients died of other distant metastases between 4 and 24 months after adrenalectomy. Two patients are still alive and free of recurrent disease and 1 patient is still alive with brain metastasis 66, 6, and 10 months, respectively, after adrenalectomy.

Conclusions: In the absence of selection criteria to identify the subgroup of patients who will benefit from surgical resection, we suggest the resection of synchronous lesions in patients without N2 involvement and the careful selection of patients with metachronous adrenal metastases according to the evolution of their disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / mortality
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / secondary*
  • Adrenal Gland Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Adrenalectomy*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / mortality
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / secondary*
  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung / surgery*
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / mortality
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Survival Rate