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Surgery. 1996 Feb;119(2):161-70.

The Italian Registry for Adrenal Cortical Carcinoma: analysis of a multiinstitutional series of 129 patients. The ACC Italian Registry Study Group.

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Department of Surgery, Catholic University School of Medicine, Rome, Italy.



Adrenal cortical carcinoma is an uncommon tumor with a poor prognosis. The low incidence of this tumor makes it difficult to achieve reliable data on clinical manifestations, natural history, and the impact of therapies. The purpose of this study was to evaluate such aspects in a large series.


A retrospective series of 129 cases (55 men and 74 women, mean age of 49 years) was collected from 18 surgical institutions. At the time of diagnosis 45.7% of patients had endocrine symptoms. One hundred twenty-four patients underwent surgery, which was considered curative in 91 cases and palliative in 33. Sixty-three patients had local disease, 48 had regional disease, and 43 had distant metastases.


This study confirmed a higher incidence in the 40- to 50-year-old population with a female prevalence; hormonal hyperincretion was more common in women, but it was not caused by advanced disease. The overall 5-year survival rate was 35%. Tumor stage and curative resection affected prognosis significantly. The influence of gender, side, age, and hormonal function has not been confirmed. Adjuvant therapies were ineffective in prolonging survival. Reoperated patients experienced better survival (mean, 41.5 months) than nonreoperated cases (mean, 15.6 months).


The poor prognosis of adrenal cortical carcinoma may be improved by early diagnosis and complete resection. Radical surgery is the sole effective therapy, particularly in early stages. Surgical treatment of recurrence seems to improve survival and should be attempted systematically. Adjuvant therapies obtained contrasting results, and their role should be evaluated in prospective multicentric trials.

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