Expertise in Endocrine Cancer Care

At Northside Hospital Cancer Institute, you have an entire team involved in all aspects of care across every type of endocrine cancer. This means you have the strength of Georgia’s largest and most comprehensive community cancer program – right here, right now.

Your Team of Endocrine Cancer Specialists

Endocrine cancers – including adrenal cancer, neuroendocrine tumors and thyroid cancer – occur in hormone-producing glands. Due to the complexity of the endocrine system, it’s important to seek out oncology experts that specialize in cancers of the endocrine system. 

You’ll have access to a multidisciplinary team, specializing in endocrinology and endocrine surgery, radiation therapy and medical oncology. Your care teams also include pathologists, radiologists and certified genetic counselors with expertise in endocrine cancers. 

Northside Hospital Cancer Institute believes in working together to support your unique physical and emotional needs — from diagnosis through treatment and survivorship — and on to wellness. Other team members include:

  • Nurse navigators who can help you throughout the treatment process.
  • Research nurses (when applicable) to help you better understand your cancer.
  • Social workers who you can lean on for social, emotional and spiritual support.
  • Dietitians for health and nutrition.
  • Rehabilitation specialists to help you maintain strength and energy for daily activities.

More About Endocrine Cancer 

The endocrine system is the collection of glands that produce your body’s hormones. The hormones made by your endocrine system glands help control things like your body’s growth and development, your reproductive health, your moods and the way some of your organs work. 

The endocrine glands can be affected by cancer including:

  • Adrenal cancer: Adrenal cancer begins in one or both of the adrenal glands in your body, one on top of each of your kidneys. These glands make steroids and other hormones, such as adrenaline. 
  • Neuroendocrine cancer: A neuroendocrine tumor can happen anywhere in the body. It can start in certain cells that have features like those of hormone-producing cells and nerve cells. 
  • Thyroid cancer: Thyroid cancer starts in the thyroid gland, which sits at the base of your neck and makes hormones that control your metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. The thyroid gland also absorbs nearly all of the iodine in your body. 

 

Endocrine Cancer Symptoms 

The symptoms of endocrine cancer vary depending on its location and the age of the patient. 

  • In adults, symptoms of adrenal cancer may include weight gain, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, muscle weakness, abdominal bloating, back pain, irregular menstrual periods, and/or excessive hair growth on the face, chest and back in women, and in men may include increased breast tissue or shrinking testicles. 
  • Because neuroendocrine tumors can occur anywhere in the body, neuroendocrine cancer symptoms vary widely. General symptoms may include a growing lump, unexplained weight gain or weight loss, excessive tiredness, flushing or sweating.
  • Thyroid cancer doesn’t cause many symptoms early on. Eventually, you may feel a lump or swollen lymph nodes in your neck, become hoarse, have trouble swallowing or have throat or neck pain.  

Endocrine Cancer Risk Factors 

Adrenal cancer: Doctors don’t know what causes adrenal cancer. Some cases may be due to certain diseases that run in your family, such as Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome, familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Lynch syndrome and multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1).

Neuroendocrine tumor: The risk of a neuroendocrine tumor also is higher in people with certain genetic syndromes. These include multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN 1), multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN 2), Von Hippel-Lindau disease and neurofibromatosis type 1. 

Thyroid cancer: Although doctors don’t know the exact cause of most thyroid cancer subtypes, we do know that women are three times more likely to develop the disease than men. Other risk factors include a family history of the disease and certain genetic conditions such as FAP and MEN 2. Exposure to high radiation levels can contribute to thyroid cancers, as can diets that are too low or too high in iodine. 

Diagnosing Your Endocrine Cancer  

Adrenal cancer and neuroendocrine cancer may be diagnosed with a blood or urine lab test that shows abnormal hormone levels. Your team at Northside Hospital Cancer Institute may also use imaging tests such as an ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or positron emission tomography (PET) scans or biopsy to diagnose the cancer. 

Thyroid tumors are often found when a doctor feels a lump on the neck during a routine physical exam. Imaging may then be used to confirm the suspected tumor. Other times doctors will notice a thyroid tumor when they do X-rays, CT scans or MRI scans for other medical problems. 

Your Endocrine Cancer Treatment Options 

Adrenal cancer and neuroendocrine cancer treatments often involve surgery to remove the cancer. Surgery may be replaced or followed up with medication, radiation therapy or chemotherapy to help eliminate any remaining cancer cells and to keep the cancer from coming back. 

Thyroid cancer treatment also may involve surgery and/or targeted medication therapy, radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Because the thyroid gland absorbs iodine, thyroid tumors can also be treated with radioactive iodine.

As a leader of the Georgia NCI Community Oncology Research Program (NCORP) and other research programs, we give people in communities across Georgia access to best-in-class cancer prevention, screening, treatment and clinical trial opportunities. We’ll help you understand all of your options for an endocrine cancer treatment plan to fit your personal goals.   


Endocrine Cancer Support & Survivorship

Any cancer diagnosis is life-changing and we know you need a team to guide you through the process. Our oncology nurse navigators do just that. They work with your oncology care team to coordinate your care and answer any questions you may have, while also connecting you with Northside Hospital Cancer Institute’s extensive support and survivorship resources.

LEARN MORE ABOUT ALL OF OUR NHCI SUPPORT & SURVIVORSHIP SERVICES