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Open access

Ray Wang, Benjamin Solomon, Stephen J Luen, Owen W.J. Prall, Christine Khoo, Anthony J Gill, Jeremy Lewin, and Nirupa Sachithanandan


Adrenocortical carcinoma is a rare disease with poor prognosis whose clinical heterogeneity can at times present a challenge to accurate and timely diagnosis. We present the case of a patient who presented with extensive pulmonary lesions, mediastinal and hilar lymphadenopathy and an adrenal mass in whom the oncological diagnosis was initially uncertain. Through the use of immunohistochemistry, biochemistry and genomic testing, an accurate diagnosis of adrenocortical carcinoma was ultimately made which resulted in more directed treatment being administered. The use of multidisciplinary input and genomics to aid in diagnosis and prognosis of adrenocortical carcinoma is discussed.

Learning points

  • Adrenocortical carcinomas can present a diagnostic challenge to clinicians given it is a rare malignancy with significant clinical heterogeneity.

  • Specialist multidisciplinary team input is vital in the diagnosis and management of adrenocortical carcinomas.

  • Hormonal testing is recommended in the diagnostic workup of adrenal masses, even in the absence of overt clinical signs/symptoms of hormone excess.

  • Immunostaining for the highly sensitive and specific steroidogenic factor-1 is vital for accurate diagnosis.

  • Genomics can provide prognostic utility in management of adrenocortical carcinoma.

Open access

Said Darawshi, Mahmoud Darawshi, and Deeb Daoud Naccache

Severe hypocalcaemia in breast cancer with bone metastasis is a rare finding usually associated with an advanced stage of the disease. We report a case of a 45-year-old woman with a history of local ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) of the breast, who presented with muscle tremors and general weakness. Hypocalcaemia was evident, with a positive Chvostek sign and a serum calcium level of 5.9 mg/dL (1.47 mmol/L), phosphorus 5.9 mg/dL (normal range: 2.3–4.7 mg/dL) with normal levels of albumin, magnesium and parathyroid hormone. High oral doses of alpha calcitriol and calcium with i.v. infusion of high calcium doses were instituted, altogether sufficient to maintain only mild hypocalcaemia. A whole-body CT revealed bone lesions along the axial skeleton. A biopsy from a bone lesion revealed a metastasis of breast carcinoma. With this pathological finding, leuprolide (GNRH analogue) and chlorambucil (alkylating agent) were initiated, followed by prompt tapering of infused calcium down to full discontinuation. Serum calcium was kept stable close to the low normal range by high doses of oral alpha calcitriol and calcium. This course raises suspicion that breast metastases to the skeleton caused tumour-induced hypocalcaemia by a unique mechanism. We assume that hypocalcaemia in this case was promoted by a combination of hypoparathyroidism and bone metastasis.

Learning points

  • Severe hypocalcaemia can a presenting symptom for breast cancer relapse.

Open access