The prevalence of adrenal tumors among the general population was modest (1.4%), according to study results published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

With the development of and increased access to advanced imaging technologies, the detection rate of adrenal tumors has increased 10-fold in the past 2 decades. As tumor-detecting technologies are relatively new, the prevalence of adrenal tumors and malignancy rates of detected tumors remains poorly understood.

This study sought to evaluate the rate of adrenal tumors among the general population. During the weekdays in November 2020 to 2021, the first 100 adults undergoing health checks at the First Affiliated Hospital of Chongquin Medical University in China were invited to undergo adrenal tumor screening using unenhanced computed tomography and functional assessment.

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A total of 25,356 patients agreed to participate. The study population included 50.2% women, mean age 48.0 years.

A total of 351 participants were found to have adrenal tumors, for an overall incidence rate of 1.4%. Stratified by gender, men had a higher rate (1.6%) than women (1.2%).

The median tumor nodule diameter was 15 (range, 10 to 45) mm and 62.4% were left localized, 28.5% were right localized, and 9.1% were bilateral.

Tumors were nonfunctioning adenomas (147), had cortisol autonomy (40), or primary aldosteronism (25).

Compared with nonfunctioning adenoma tumors, those with cortisol autonomy tumors had decreased adrenocorticotropic hormone and adrenal androgens, whereas patients with primary aldosteronism tumors had increased blood pressure, aldosterone, aldosterone-renin ratio, and 18-oxocortisol with lower renin.

This study may be limited as some patients refused a hormonal assessment.

These data indicated that the overall prevalence of adrenal tumors was 1.4% and that nonfunctional adenomas accounted for the majority of detected tumors.


Jing Y, Hu J, Luo R, et al. Prevalence and characteristics of adrenal tumors in an unselected screening population: a cross-sectional study. Ann Intern Med. Published online September 13, 2022. doi:10.7326/M22-1619