To assess its differential diagnostic value, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) was measured in a nonselected cohort of 84 patients with incidentally detected adrenal tumors (incidentaloma). Of the 38 histologically confirmed cases, 6 of 12 patients with primary or metastatic malignant tumor of the adrenals and 7 of 14 patients with benign cortical adenoma had low DHEA-S levels. Thus, the sensitivity, specificity, and predictive value of a low DHEA- S level to indicate a benign adrenal tumor were 0.35, 0.50, and 0.60, and the values to indicate a cortical adenoma were 0.50, 0.67, and 0.47, respectively. Of the 14 cases of histologically confirmed benign cortical adenoma, 10 had signs of hormonal activity, but DHEA-S was suppressed in only 7 cases. Thus, the sensitivity, specificity, and predictive value of a low DHEA-S level to indicate clinically significant hormonal activity of a benign cortical adenoma were 0.60, 0.75, and 0.86, respectively. For comparison, 5 of 5 males and 2 of 5 females with metastatic carcinomatosis, but without involvement of the adrenals, also had low DHEA-S levels. The data clearly show that in nonselected cases of incidentaloma a suppressed DHEA-S level is not a good predictor of hormonal activity and that DHEA-S measurement may be valuable only after having ascertained the cortical origin and benign feature of the tumor.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Biochemistry, medical