Case Report

Adrenal cortical carcinoma masquerading as pheochromocytoma: a case report

31 Oct 2012
H Ni, A Htet

Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is a malignant tumour arising from the adrenal cortex, while pheochromocytoma is a catecholamine secreting tumour of the adrenal medulla or extra adrenal sites. Both conditions are very rare, with incidence of approximately 1–2 cases per million adults annually. Most adrenocortical tumours are functioning. ACC can be associated with clinical Cushing syndrome and virilisation due to excessive production of cortisol and androgens, respectively. However, it is rare for ACC to present clinically as pheochromocytoma. We report a case of a 28-year-old lady who presented with paroxysmal hypertension and palpitations associated with raised urinary vanillyl mandelic acid. On examination, there was postural hypotension and ballotable mass in right lumbar region with no obvious features suggestive of Cushing syndrome or virilisation. A huge right suprarenal mass with areas of necrosis and calcification was noted on the abdomen CT. A right adrenalectomy was done. The histology was consistent with ACC. There are reported cases of ACC presenting with clinical features of pheochromocytoma but limited in number, accounting for barely a dozen cases in the literature. This pseudopheochromocytoma may be due to the presence of neuroendocrine features in ACC.

Keywords: adrenocortical carcinoma, pheochromocytoma, adrenal tumours, paroxysmal hypertension, urinary vanillyl mandelic acid

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