KirschnerComprehensive Adrenal Program recognized for excellence

Patients with adrenal disorders — rare, complicated or straightforward — are finding the highest quality multidisciplinary care and treatment within the Comprehensive Adrenal Program at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

As a testament to our expertise, we’ve earned recognition as a Center of Excellence from the Pheo Para Alliance, an organization that supports and advocates for patients with these rare endocrine tumors.

The alliance awards Center of Excellence distinction to institutions around the world that meet high standards for leading-edge care and research related to pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas. The adrenal program at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center is one of nine worldwide with this recognition.

“With the Center of Excellence designation, patients who come to our center — and the doctors who refer them — can be assured that they will get expert care, even for rare conditions,” Lawrence Kirschner, MD, PhD, says. “Our program serves as a single resource for patients who have all types of adrenal medical issues, including tumors and other diseases and conditions that affect adrenal function.”

Kirschner, a clinical endocrinologist and physician-scientist, serves as co-director of the Comprehensive Adrenal Program along with Barbra Miller, MD, an endocrine surgeon in the Division of Surgical Oncology.

A destination for specialized adrenal care — from diagnostic testing to treatment

The mission of the Comprehensive Adrenal Program at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center is to deliver innovative, evidence-based clinical care to patients and to advance the scientific understanding of benign and malignant adrenal disorders.

To earn the Center of Excellence distinction, the program demonstrated that it provides patients with multidisciplinary care and actively participates in paraganglioma and pheochromocytoma research.

“Due to the specialized nature of our expertise, we see patients with adrenal issues from throughout Ohio and surrounding states. We have diagnostic testing and treatment options that are not available everywhere,” Kirschner says. “Also, if patients are coming to us from a distance, we can arrange for them to see several experts in the same day — an endocrinologist, oncologist and surgeon, for example.”

Kirschner and his colleagues in the Comprehensive Adrenal Program treat a wide variety of adrenal issues, including:

  • Pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas
  • Adrenocortical cancer (although adrenal cancer is rare, they see it frequently because not many centers have the expertise to treat it)
  • Metastatic disease involving the adrenal glands (lung, breast, renal cell cancers, melanoma and others)
  • Benign adrenal tumors
  • Adrenal glands that make too much or not enough hormones, including:
    • Cushing syndrome
    • Hyperaldosteronism
    • Androgens/estrogens
  • Congenital adrenal hyperplasia
  • Adrenal disorders driven by genetic mutations, including:
    • Multiple endocrine neoplasia
    • Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome
    • Lynch syndrome
    • Li-Fraumeni syndrome
    • Neurofibromatosis type 1

To address all its patients’ care needs, the Comprehensive Adrenal Program offers access to experts within endocrinology, oncology and many other fields and disciplines, such as:

  • Endocrine surgery
  • Surgical oncology
  • Genetics
  • Nuclear medicine
  • Otolaryngology
  • Pathology
  • Radiology and interventional radiology
  • Radiation oncology

The program also provides additional services, as needed, from the fields of:

  • Cardiology
  • Nephrology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Psychosocial oncology
  • Social work
  • Survivorship

Patients have access to unique clinical trials and tumor research

As an academic health center, the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center is also a research institute. Our Comprehensive Adrenal Program offers patients access to clinical trials with researchers who are looking at new therapeutics for adrenal cancer. Other clinical trials involve the care of people who have noncancerous adrenal issues such as Cushing’s disease, hyperaldosteronism and congenital adrenal hyperplasia.

We also operate a basic research program to learn more about why tumors form on the adrenal gland.

“One study in particular is looking into the origins of pheochromocytomas, one of the most highly inherited tumors out there,” Kirschner says. “Between 30% and 40% of patients actually have an inherited form of the disease. We are working to understand why these people are prone to tumors.”

In another study, researchers are trying to understand the biology of the tumor. Priya Dedhia, MD, PhD, is developing and using organoids in her work.

“Our researchers are studying patient tumors and growing them in a lab to determine what causes them and how they can use that knowledge to develop new treatments,” Kirschner says.

The future of the Comprehensive Adrenal Program: Finding the right care for adrenal patients

The specialists with the Comprehensive Adrenal Program at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center strive to offer lifechanging care for people who have adrenal cancers and complicated adrenal issues.

“When patients express confidence that they’ve finally found a place where experts understand their condition, it makes a huge difference for them. Not everyone can be cured, but we can help many people live better lives,” Kirschner says. “The level of comfort patients feel here is powerful and encouraging.”

Kirschner and his colleagues plan to continue their research and grow their expertise so that they can diagnose and treat even more people who need specialized attention.

“We’re happy to work with providers from around the country — and their patients — to provide them the best possible treatment,” Kirschner says.

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