What are the symptoms of androgen-secreting tumours?

These depend on a number of factors, such as how fast the tumour is growing and how much androgen is being secreted by it. The main symptoms are those indicative of virilisation and these are listed below, with the most common first:

  • Hirsutism (increased hair growth especially on upper lip, chin, abdomen, around the nipples and on the back)
  • Oligomenorrhoea (irregular periods) or secondary amenorrhoea (cessation of periods)
  • Infertility
  • Acne
  • Male pattern baldness
  • Deepening of voice pitch
  • Clitoromegaly (an enlarged clitoris)
  • Breast atrophy (the breasts get smaller)

Other symptoms arise due to the local pressure effects of the growing tumour. For example a growing adrenal AST can cause back pain, and all rapidly growing tumours can cause an unexplained weight loss.

Occasionally an adrenal AST may be associated with the over-production of other hormones such as cortisol, which can produce other symptoms (such as the central obesity and striae seen in Cushing's syndrome - see section on Cushing's syndrome).