An educational article written by researchers at University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) will help non-specialists around the UK in the management of incidental adrenal tumours, after being published in the high impact medical research journal, The BMJ.
Incidental adrenal tumours are unsuspected tumours in one or both adrenal glands (glands which produce a variety of hormones and sit just above the kidney), and are usually found by chance during an imaging test for another condition.
These masses are being detected more frequently in an ageing population through increased use of higher resolution CT and MRI scans. As the findings are unexpected, detection can be very distressing for patients, particularly while awaiting further tests or appointments.
The UHNM researchers, linked to both Keele and Staffordshire Universities, worked together with colleagues at the University Hospital of South Manchester to look at previous studies, collate recommendations from international guidelines and include a focus group discussion with patients to highlight their experiences. All of this allowed them to provide helpful tips throughout the article for non-specialists, regarding how to best manage the finding of an incidental adrenal tumour and how to then interact with the patient.
Funded by the Health Foundation, the team have been developing a new electronic management system called eAIMS to streamline the process so that delay for patients is minimised and hence anxiety reduced, whilst improving efficiency in use of healthcare resources.
Professor Tony Fryer, R&D Director at UHNM, Professor of Clinical Biochemistry at Keele Univeristy and co-author of the article, said: "Incidental adrenal lesions can create significant anxiety for patients, and yet is often overlooked as an area of study. We were delighted that the BMJ recognised its importance and the need to provide clear guidance to non-specialists, many of whom will be the first people to identify these lesions"
Professor Fahmy Hanna, Professor of Diabetes and Metabolism at UHNM and Staffordshire University, and lead author, said: "Writing this paper helped us to highlight the challenges faced by all clinicians when dealing with adrenal lesions discovered accidentally. We took the additional step of working with one of our patients to share his experience of what it meant for him to have one of those lesions."