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Hong Kong Med J. 2009 Dec;15(6):463-70.

Use of urinary steroid profiling for diagnosing and monitoring adrenocortical tumours.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, 30 Gascoigne Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong.


It has been suggested that urinary steroid profiling may be used to provide information aiding the diagnosis and monitoring of adrenocortical carcinoma. Nonetheless, the abnormal patterns suggestive of adrenal malignancy are not well defined. We retrospectively studied the urinary steroid profiles of five patients with adrenocortical carcinoma at presentation and at follow-up, and compared these results with those from 76 patients with benign adrenocortical adenoma and 172 healthy controls. Three abnormal patterns of urinary steroid excretion were identified in patients with adrenocortical carcinoma at presentation and/or follow-up of residual disease: (1) hypersecretion in multiple steroid axes; (2) excretion of unusual metabolites, notably 5-pregnene-3alpha,16alpha,20alpha-triol, 5-pregnene-3beta,16alpha,20alpha-triol, and neonatal steroid metabolites in the post-neonatal period; (3) increase of tetrahydro-11-deoxycortisol relative to total cortisol metabolites. These preliminary findings offer ways in which urinary steroid profiling performed using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry can be helpful in the diagnosis and monitoring of adrenocortical carcinoma.

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