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Andrew R Williams, Gary D Hammer and Tobias Else


Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is a rare malignancy with high recurrence and mortality rates. The utility, sensitivity, and effect on patient outcome of transcutaneous adrenal biopsy (TAB) for single, large, adrenal masses are unclear.


This study evaluated the utility, diagnostic sensitivity, and effect on patient outcome of TAB in patients with ACC.

Design and setting

We conducted a retrospective review of the electronic medical records of all ACC patients who were evaluated at the University of Michigan Health System from 1991 to 2011. We evaluated the sensitivity of TAB for tumors with the final pathological diagnosis of ACC. We compared the characteristics and survival of patients with stage I–III disease who underwent TAB with those who did not undergo TAB.


A total of 75 ACC patients with TAB were identified. Complications occurred in at least 11% of patients and were mainly associated with bleeding. The maximum sensitivity of the procedure in diagnosing ACC was 70%. For stage I–III patients, baseline characteristics, stage at diagnosis, and adjuvant treatment with mitotane or radiation were not significantly different between the TAB (n=36) and the non-TAB (n=254) groups. There was no significant difference in recurrence-free (P=0.7) or overall survival (P=0.7) between patients who underwent TAB and those who did not.


TAB of single, large, adrenal masses is usually unnecessary, exposes patients to risk, but does not affect recurrence-free or overall survival.

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Kazutaka Nanba, Kei Omata, Scott A Tomlins, Thomas J Giordano, Gary D Hammer, William E Rainey and Tobias Else


Co-secretion of cortisol and aldosterone can be observed in adrenal adenomas. The aim of this study was to investigate the molecular characteristics of a co-existing aldosterone- and a cortisol-producing adenoma (CPA) in the same patient.

Design and methods

Two different adenomas within the same adrenal gland from a 49-year-old female patient with primary aldosteronism (PA) and Cushing's syndrome (CS) were studied. Multiple formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tumor blocks were used for the analysis. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) was performed using a specific antibody against aldosterone synthase (CYP11B2). DNA and RNA were isolated separately from CYP11B2-positive and -negative tumor regions based on CYP11B2 IHC results.


CYP11B2 IHC clearly demonstrated that three pieces from one adenoma were positive for CYP11B2 and the remaining three from the other adenoma were negative for CYP11B2. In quantitative real-time RT-PCR, CYP11B2 mRNA was upregulated in CYP11B2-positive tumor specimens (219-fold vs CYP11B2-negative tumor specimens). Targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) detected novel KCNJ5 gene mutations (p.T148I/T149S, present in the same reads) and a PRKACA gene hotspot mutation (p.L206R) in the CYP11B2-positive and -negative tumors, respectively. Sanger sequencing of DNA from each tumor specimen (CYP11B2-positive tumor, n=3; CYP11B2-negative tumor, n=3) showed concordant results with targeted NGS.


Our findings illustrate the co-existence of two different adrenocortical adenomas causing the concurrent diagnosis of PA and CS in the same patient. Molecular analysis was able to demonstrate that the two diseases resulted from independent somatic mutations seen in double adrenocortical adenomas.

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Martin Fassnacht, Olaf M Dekkers, Tobias Else, Eric Baudin, Alfredo Berruti, Ronald R de Krijger, Harm R Haak, Radu Mihai, Guillaume Assie and Massimo Terzolo

Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is a rare and in most cases steroid hormone-producing tumor with variable prognosis. The purpose of these guidelines is to provide clinicians with best possible evidence-based recommendations for clinical management of patients with ACC based on the GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation) system. We predefined four main clinical questions, which we judged as particularly important for the management of ACC patients and performed systematic literature searches: (A) What is needed to diagnose an ACC by histopathology? (B) Which are the best prognostic markers in ACC? (C) Is adjuvant therapy able to prevent recurrent disease or reduce mortality after radical resection? (D) What is the best treatment option for macroscopically incompletely resected, recurrent or metastatic disease? Other relevant questions were discussed within the group. Selected Recommendations: (i) We recommend that all patients with suspected and proven ACC are discussed in a multidisciplinary expert team meeting. (ii) We recommend that every patient with (suspected) ACC should undergo careful clinical assessment, detailed endocrine work-up to identify autonomous hormone excess and adrenal-focused imaging. (iii) We recommend that adrenal surgery for (suspected) ACC should be performed only by surgeons experienced in adrenal and oncological surgery aiming at a complete en bloc resection (including resection of oligo-metastatic disease). (iv) We suggest that all suspected ACC should be reviewed by an expert adrenal pathologist using the Weiss score and providing Ki67 index. (v) We suggest adjuvant mitotane treatment in patients after radical surgery that have a perceived high risk of recurrence (ENSAT stage III, or R1 resection, or Ki67 >10%). (vi) For advanced ACC not amenable to complete surgical resection, local therapeutic measures (e.g. radiation therapy, radiofrequency ablation, chemoembolization) are of particular value. However, we suggest against the routine use of adrenal surgery in case of widespread metastatic disease. In these patients, we recommend either mitotane monotherapy or mitotane, etoposide, doxorubicin and cisplatin depending on prognostic parameters. In selected patients with a good response, surgery may be subsequently considered. (vii) In patients with recurrent disease and a disease-free interval of at least 12 months, in whom a complete resection/ablation seems feasible, we recommend surgery or alternatively other local therapies. Furthermore, we offer detailed recommendations about the management of mitotane treatment and other supportive therapies. Finally, we suggest directions for future research.

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Tobias Else, Antonio Marcondes Lerario, Jessica Everett, Lori Haymon, Deborah Wham, Michael Mullane, Tremika LeShan Wilson, Irene Rainville, Huma Rana, Andrew J Worth, Nathaniel W Snyder, Ian A Blair, Rana McKay, Kerry Kilbridge, Gary Hammer, Justine Barletta and Anand Vaidya


Germline loss-of-function mutations in succinate dehydrogenase (SDHx) genes results in rare tumor syndromes that include pheochromocytoma, paraganglioma, and others. Here we report a case series of patients with adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) that harbor SDHx mutations.

Patients and results

We report four unrelated patients with ACC and SDHx mutations. All cases presented with Cushing syndrome and large adrenal masses that were confirmed to be ACC on pathology. All four ACC specimens were found to have truncating mutations in either SDHC or SDHA, while cases 1, 2 and 3 also had the mutations confirmed in the germline: Case 1: SDHC c.397C > T, pR133X; Case 2: SDHC c.43C > T, p.R15X; Case 3: SDHA c.91C > T, p.R31X; Case 4: SDHA c.1258C > T, p.Q420X. Notably, Case 1 had a father and daughter who both harbored the same SDHC germline mutation, and the father had a paraganglioma and renal cell carcinoma. A combination of next generation sequencing, and/or immunohistochemistry, and/or mass spectroscopy was used to determine whether there was loss of heterozygosity and/or loss of SDH protein expression or function within the ACC. Potential evidence of loss of heterozygosity was observed only in Case 2.


We observed truncating mutations in SDHA or SDHC in the ACC and/or germline of four unrelated patients. Given how statistically improbable the concurrence of ACC and pathogenic germline SDHx mutations is expected to be, these observations raise the question whether ACC may be a rare manifestation of SDHx mutation syndromes. Further studies are needed to investigate the possible role of SDH deficiency in ACC pathogenesis.