Jump to content

Bad News: You have an "incidentaloma"

Recommended Posts



September 27, 2006

Bad news: You have an 'incidentaloma'


Sometimes in medicine, you stumble across a $10 word for a 10-cent concept. "Incidentaloma" is one such noun.


An incidentaloma is a benign growth or tumor found by coincidence when a doctor is looking for something else. The annoying part is they cause worry and may require expensive workups to show that, yes, it is a benign growth, and no, it is not a lucky discovery of early-stage cancer. Whole-body CT scans are notorious for this.


Incidentalomas are frequently found on the adrenal glands. The adrenals are triangular glands that sit atop each kidney and influence the body's metabolism, salt and water balance, and response to stress by secreting a variety of hormones. The National Institutes of Health says:


"Based on autopsy studies, adrenal masses are among the most common tumors in humans: at autopsy, an adrenal mass occurs in at least 3 percent of persons over age 50. Most adrenal masses cause no health problems. A small proportion, however, can lead to a number of serious hormonal diseases; approximately 1 out of every 4,000 adrenal tumors is malignant."


Anyway, this popped into my mind when I went to an optometrist who used a high tech camera to photograph my retinas. There she found two "freckles," or choroidal nevi, I didn't know about. There's an off chance these freckles can turn into melanoma. So now I've been to an eye doctor, had the retinas photographed again, and will go back in six months to see if anything has changed.


I'm grateful to have insurance that enables me to monitor my health. But the older I get, the better I understand the aversion to routine check-ups.


Posted by Leigh Hopper at September 27, 2006 10:25 AM

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...