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Cancer Health Center

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Adrenocortical Carcinoma Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Stage Information for Adrenocortical Carcinoma

There are several staging systems in use. The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) staging system [1] is based on the following assessment:

The stage of adrenocortical carcinoma is determined by the size of the primary tumor, the degree of local invasion, and whether it has spread to regional lymph nodes or distant sites. Proper staging should include computed tomography (CT) of the abdomen and chest. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may add specificity to CT evaluation of an adrenal mass.[2] In-phase and out-of-phase T1-weighted imaging may be the most effective noninvasive method to differentiate benign from malignant adrenal masses. MRI may suggest evidence of extracapsular tumor invasion, extension into the vena cava, or metastases. Patency of surrounding vessels can often be demonstrated with gadolinium-enhanced sequences or flip-angle techniques.[3]

In addition to the above-mentioned AJCC staging, the European Network for the Study of Adrenal Tumors (ENSAT) staging system is widely used internationally.[4] The ENSAT staging system is essentially the same as the AJCC system, but reserves stage IV only for tumors with distant metastasis. Other staging systems include the classical Macfarlane system, modified by Sullivan, and the Union Internationale Contre le Cancer staging system, published by the World Health Organization.[5]

Definitions of TNM

The AJCC has designated staging by TNM to define adrenocortical carcinoma.[1]

Table 1. Primary Tumor (T)a

a Reprinted with permission from AJCC: Adrenal. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 515-20.
b Adjacent organs include kidney, diaphragm, great vessels, pancreas, spleen, and liver.
TX Primary tumor cannot be assessed.
T0 No evidence of primary tumor.
T1 Tumor ≤5 cm in greatest dimension, no extra-adrenal invasion.
T2 Tumor >5 cm, no extra-adrenal invasion.
T3 Tumor of any size with local invasion, but not invading adjacent organs.b
T4 Tumor of any size with invasion of adjacent organs.b

Table 2. Regional Lymph Nodes (N)a

a Reprinted with permission from AJCC: Adrenal. In: Edge SB, Byrd DR, Compton CC, et al., eds.: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 7th ed. New York, NY: Springer, 2010, pp 515-20.
NX Regional lymph nodes cannot be assessed.
N0 No regional lymph node metastasis.
N1 Metastases in regional lymph node(s).
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