Endocrine Tumors & Cancer | Symptoms & Treatments | MedStar Health

What are endocrine tumors?

Endocrine tumors are abnormal masses found in tissues of the endocrine system, which includes the thyroid, adrenal, pancreas, parathyroid, and pituitary glands. These glands produce and secrete hormones that are responsible for:

  • Stress
  • Growth
  • Reproduction
  • Digestion
  • Sleep
  • ...and more

When abnormal cells divide uncontrollably, they can become cancerous (malignant), and spread. Although most tumors that begin in the endocrine system are benign (noncancerous), tumor invasion can disrupt normal hormone-related processes.

At MedStar Health, our endocrinologists, endocrine surgeons, neurosurgeons, medical oncologists, neuro-ophthalmologists, pathologists, radiologists, and other healthcare professionals see a high number of patients with benign endocrine tumors, as well as thyroid cancer and other types of cancer. Our dedicated team of specialists work together to provide accurate and timely diagnosis, second opinion consultations, and multidisciplinary treatment that combines research-backed medical and surgical options to ensure you receive the best possible care for your specific condition.

Cancer Overview

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A delicate balance must exist between the rate at which new cells are created and the rate at which old cells die. Cancer develops when the balance is disrupted and cells grow out of control.

Why choose MedStar Health for endocrine tumor care?

Patients choose MedStar Health because we offer:

  • Nationally-recognized cancer care: Our research engine, Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, is the only comprehensive cancer center in the region designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
  • Experienced clinicians in related subspecialties: From endocrinologists who focus on specific endocrine tumor types to neurosurgeons with decades of experience treating pituitary tumors, our specialists focus exclusively on treating patients with your type of tumor.
  • A multidisciplinary team approach: While our specialists are experts in their respective fields, we know that collaboration among our radiologists, pathologists, endocrinologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and surgeons helps our patients achieve their best outcomes.
  • Specialized tumor boards: Our endocrine tumor teams meet regularly to tailor treatment plans that consider comprehensive options backed by research and based on your unique needs.
  • Convenient, coordinated care: With one medical record and several locations, we make it easy to get the specialized care you deserve, close to where you live and work throughout Maryland, Washington, D.C., or beyond, through virtual visits.

Types of tumors

Medical illustration showing the location of the organs of the urinary tract system.

Adrenal tumors

Adrenal tumors begin in the adrenal glands, which are situated above each kidney. These glands produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth, fertility, and other bodily processes. Most adrenal tumors are benign (noncancerous), however, some may become cancerous (malignant). Various types of adrenal tumors grow at different rates, thereby requiring unique treatment approaches.

Learn More About Adrenal Tumors

Neuroendocrine tumors

Neuroendocrine cells are specialized cells with traits similar to nerve cells and hormone-producing endocrine cells. Because these cells are located throughout the body, neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) can also develop in any part of the body. However, they most commonly originate in the gastrointestinal tract, lungs, or pancreas. Depending on the subtype and primary location, NETs can be slow-growing or aggressive.

Learn More About Neuroendocrine Tumors

Parathyroid tumors

Medical illustration showing the location of the thyroid and parathyroid glands. These rare tumors develop in the parathyroid glands, which are located in the neck or upper chest near the thyroid gland. Although rare and often benign (noncancerous), parathyroid tumors can cause high levels of the hormone that controls calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood.

Learn More About Parathyroid Tumors

Pituitary tumors

Medical illustration showing the location of a pituitary tumor.As tiny as a pea and located towards the bottom center of the brain, the pituitary gland secretes hormones that stimulate other endocrine glands to function properly. The pituitary gland helps regulate metabolic functions, as well as growth, reproduction, and blood pressure levels. Pituitary tumors are growths on the gland and can affect hormone production. In most cases, these tumors do not spread and are not considered cancerous.

Learn More About Pituitary Tumors

Thyroid Disease

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The thyroid is one of several glands in the endocrine system. It is a butterfly shaped gland located in the front of the neck.

Thyroid cancer

The thyroid is a gland located at the base of the throat. It contains hormones that control important functions, such as the body's heart rate, blood pressure, and metabolism. When cells grow out of control, they can form a tumor, which may become cancerous. In fact, thyroid cancer is the most common type of endocrine cancer.

Learn More About Thyroid Cancer

Our services

We offer a full range of diagnostic tests, treatments, and support services, tailored to your specific endocrine tumor, health, and preferences.

MedStar Health offers comprehensive services to care for you before, during, and after your diagnosis, including:

  • Blood and lab tests
  • Biopsy
  • Imaging scans
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy, including CyberKnife and Proton Beam Therapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Nuclear medicine
  • Surgery, including minimally invasive approaches in endocrine surgery and neurosurgery
  • Clinical trials
  • Genetic counseling
  • Rehabilitation

Looking for expert care?

With multiple locations throughout the region, patients have access to many of the nation’s renowned cancer specialists offering high-quality care, second opinions, and a chance for better outcomes close to where they live and work. Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of the nation’s comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), serves as the research engine allowing patients access to clinical trials that often lead to breakthroughs in cancer care.

Our locations

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MedStar Georgetown Cancer Institute at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center

9103 Franklin Square Dr.
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Cancer Institute
Suite 220
Baltimore, MD 21237

MedStar Franklin Square Cancer Center at Loch Raven Campus

5601 Loch Raven Blvd.
Russell Morgan Building
First Floor
Baltimore, MD 21239

Frequently asked questions

  • Are all endocrine tumors cancerous?

    No, the majority of tumors affecting the endocrine system are non-cancerous (benign). Very few will become cancerous.

  • Can endocrine cancer be prevented?

    Thyroid cancer is the most common type of endocrine cancer.

    Learn More

  • What is the most common type of endocrine cancer?

    No, these cancers cannot be prevented because there is no clear cause for endocrine cancer. If you have certain risk factors, such as a family history or certain hereditary conditions, you may consider talking to your doctor about what you can do to aid in early detection.