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Vishal Navani, James F Lynam, Steven Smith, Christine J O’Neill, and Christopher W Rowe

Summary

We report concurrent metastatic prostatic adenocarcinoma (PC) and functioning androgen-secreting adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) in a 77-year-old man. The failure to achieve adequate biochemical castration via androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) as treatment for PC metastases, together with elevated DHEA-S, androstenedione, and discordant adrenal tracer uptake on FDG-PET and PSMA-PET, suggested the presence of a concurrent functional primary adrenal malignancy. On histopathological analysis, scant foci of PC were present throughout the ACC specimen. Castration was achieved post adrenalectomy with concurrent drop in prostate-specific antigen. We outline the literature regarding failure of testosterone suppression on ADT and salient points regarding diagnostic workup of functioning adrenal malignancies.

Learning points

  • Failure to achieve castration with androgen deprivation therapy is rare and should prompt careful review to identify the underlying cause.

  • All adrenal lesions should be evaluated for hormone production, as well as assessed for risk of malignancy (either primary or secondary).

  • Adrenocortical carcinomas are commonly functional, and can secrete steroid hormones or their precursors (androgens, progestogens, glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids).

  • In this case, a co-incident, androgen-producing adrenocortical carcinoma was the cause of failure of testosterone suppression from androgen deprivation therapy as treatment for metastatic prostate cancer. Pathological adrenal androgen production contributed to the progression of prostate cancer.