Adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) is a rare and aggressive endocrine tumour deriving from the adrenal cortex. A correct therapeutic strategy requires a multidisciplinary approach between endocrinologist, surgeon and oncologist. Surgery is the mainstay treatment in ACC while mitotane, deriving from the insecticide dichloro-diphenyl-trichloro-ethane, is the main base of the medical treatment of ACC in consideration of its adrenocytolitic activity. However, the use of mitotane as adjuvant therapy is still controversial, also in consideration of the retrospective nature of several studies. A prospective randomised trial (ADIUVO), recruiting patients with low-intermediate risk of recurrence, is evaluating the utility of adjuvant treatment with mitotane in this setting. The therapeutic response is observed with plasma levels of mitotane >14 mg/L. However, the major difficulty in the management of mitotane treatment is related to side effects and to the risk of toxicity, which is related to plasmatic levels >20 mg/L, that is considered the upper limit of the therapeutic window. Mitotane therapy results in adrenal insufficiency, and glucocorticoid replacement therapy has to be administered at higher doses than those used in other aetiologies of primary adrenal insufficiency. Furthermore, other endocrine side effects related to mitotane should be considered, in particular on thyroid hormone and testosterone metabolism. Waiting for new medical strategies on molecular targets, it will be mandatory to optimise the current knowledge by prospective trials and, in consideration of the rarity of the disease, collaborative studies between endocrinologists and oncologists are necessary.
- Cushing’s syndrome
- adrenocortical carcinoma