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Open access

Philip D Oddie, Benjamin B Albert, Paul L Hofman, Craig Jefferies, Stephen Laughton and Philippa J Carter

Summary

Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) during childhood is a rare malignant tumor that frequently results in glucocorticoid and/or androgen excess. When there are signs of microscopic or macroscopic residual disease, adjuvant therapy is recommended with mitotane, an adrenolytic and cytotoxic drug. In addition to the anticipated side effect of adrenal insufficiency, mitotane is known to cause gynecomastia and hypothyroidism in adults. It has never been reported to cause precocious puberty. A 4-year-old girl presented with a 6-week history of virilization and elevated androgen levels and 1-year advancement in bone age. Imaging revealed a right adrenal mass, which was subsequently surgically excised. Histology revealed ACC with multiple unfavorable features, including high mitotic index, capsular invasion and atypical mitoses. Adjuvant chemotherapy was started with mitotane, cisplatin, etoposide and doxorubicin. She experienced severe gastrointestinal side effects and symptomatic adrenal insufficiency, which occurred despite physiological-dose corticosteroid replacement. She also developed hypothyroidism that responded to treatment with levothyroxine and peripheral precocious puberty (PPP) with progressive breast development and rapidly advancing bone age. Five months after discontinuing mitotane, her adrenal insufficiency persisted and she developed secondary central precocious puberty (CPP). This case demonstrates the diverse endocrine complications associated with mitotane therapy, which contrast with the presentation of ACC itself. It also provides the first evidence that the known estrogenic effect of mitotane can manifest as PPP.

Learning points:

  • Adrenocortical carcinoma is an important differential diagnosis for virilization in young children

  • Mitotane is a chemotherapeutic agent that is used to treat adrenocortical carcinoma and causes adrenal necrosis

  • Mitotane is an endocrine disruptor. In addition to the intended effect of adrenal insufficiency, it can cause hypothyroidism, with gynecomastia also reported in adults.

  • Patients taking mitotane require very high doses of hydrocortisone replacement therapy because mitotane interferes with steroid metabolism. This effect persists after mitotane therapy is completed

  • In our case, mitotane caused peripheral precocious puberty, possibly through its estrogenic effect.

Open access

Xin Feng and Gregory Kline

Summary

In a 61-year-old Caucasian male with prostate cancer, leuprolide and bicalutamide failed to suppress the androgens. He presented to endocrinology with persistently normal testosterone and incidental massive (up to 18 cm) bilateral adrenal myelolipomas on CT scan. Blood test did not reveal metanephrine excess. The patient was noted to have short stature (151 cm) and primary infertility. Elementary school photographs demonstrated precocious puberty. Physical examination revealed palpable abdominal (adrenal) masses. Abiraterone and glucocorticoid treatment was commenced with excellent suppression of testosterone. Genetic testing revealed a mutation in CYP21A2 confirming 21-hydroxylase-deficient congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH). Association of large myelolipomas with CAH has been reported in the literature. Our case highlights the importance of considering CAH in patients with non-suppressed testosterone despite androgen deprivation therapy. Large myelolipomas should raise the suspicion of congenital adrenal hyperplasia.

Learning points:

  • Adrenal myelolipomas are rare benign lesions that are more common in patients with longstanding untreated congenital adrenal hyperplasia thought to be due to ACTH stimulation.

  • Consider undiagnosed congenital adrenal hyperplasia in patients with adrenal myelolipoma.

  • Glucocorticoid replacement may be an efficacious treatment for patients with prostate cancer and CAH. Abiraterone therapy has a risk of adrenal crisis if glucocorticoids are not replaced.