Advances in translational research of the rare cancer type adrenocortical carcinoma.
Adrenocortical carcinoma is a rare malignancy with an annual worldwide incidence of 1-2 cases per 1 million and a 5-year survival rate of <60%. Although adrenocortical carcinoma is rare, such rare cancers account for approximately one third of patients diagnosed with cancer annually. In the past decade, there have been considerable advances in understanding the molecular basis of adrenocortical carcinoma. The genetic events associated with adrenocortical carcinoma in adults are distinct from those of paediatric cases, which are often associated with germline or somatic TP53 mutations and have a better prognosis. In adult primary adrenocortical carcinoma, the main somatic genetic alterations occur in genes that encode proteins involved in the WNT-β-catenin pathway, cell cycle and p53 apoptosis pathway, chromatin remodelling and telomere maintenance pathway, cAMP-protein kinase A (PKA) pathway or DNA transcription and RNA translation pathways. Recently, integrated molecular studies of adrenocortical carcinomas, which have characterized somatic mutations and the methylome as well as gene and microRNA expression profiles, have led to a molecular classification of these tumours that can predict prognosis and have helped to identify new therapeutic targets. In this Review, we summarize these recent translational research advances in adrenocortical carcinoma, which it is hoped could lead to improved patient diagnosis, treatment and outcome.
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