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Kathleen Deegan Hughes

ACC Awareness

Adrenocortical Carcinoma (ACC) is a rare cancer affecting less than one per one million people in the United States per year.

The malignant cancer cells begin in the hormone-producing tissue of the adrenal gland. If left undetected, this highly aggressive tumor can quickly spread cancerous cells to other organs of the body (most commonly the lung and liver).

What is the prognosis?

ACC is curable if caught at an early stage, which historically occurs in less than 30% of cases. This prognosis is affected greatly by the following factors:

  • Stage of cancer (based on the size of the tumor and to what extent it has spread)

  • Ability to surgically remove tumor

  • Past treatments

  • Patient’s general health

  • Grade of tumor cells beneath microscope

 

The 5 year survival rate for patient with stage IV ACC is less than 20%.

While having certain genetic conditions can predispose one to ACC, there is no known direct cause.

What are the signs?

These tumors may cause abdominal pain or a feeling of fullness in the abdomen or back, but often have no to very subtle signs and symptoms early on.

A functioning tumor, which affects hormones, will make too much cortisol, aldosterone, testosterone or estrogen.

 

Signs of too much cortisol include:

  • Facial weight gain or roundness

  • Facial or upper body hair growth

  • Moon shaped or red face

  • Lump on the back of neck

  • Vocal deepening

  • Muscle weakness

  • changes in blood sugar and blood pressure

 

Signs of too much testosterone in women include:

  • Facial hair growth

  • Acne

  • Hair loss

  • Vocal deepening

  • Amenorrhea (no periods)

 

Signs of too much estrogen in women include:

  • Irregular periods

  • Weight gain

 

Signs of too much estrogen in men include:

  • Growth of breasts

  • Decreased sex drive

  • Impotence

 

"There is nothing in this world that can prepare you for what cancer, chemotherapy, and radiation do to your mind, body, and spirit. There is not a single thing that can prepare you to witness your loved ones suffer with you.

So what is my message? Abnormal symptoms in your body are not something you should ignore. Seeing a doctor right away is worth your time. Following up on your health can change your life. Be proactive and make your health your top priority."

 

- Kathleen Deegan Hughes, ACC Warrior

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​“Enjoy life.  Love.  Laugh.  Be a little crazy.  Reach out to others.
Live without regrets and keep looking forward. ​Be brave warriors.”

- Sarah P. Gonsalves, ACC Warrior