From the Journals

Urine screen as part of triple test improves ID of adrenal cancer


Limit urine test to patients with larger tumors

They note that the use of the combined diagnostic strategy would have led to additional imaging in only 488 (24.2%) of the study’s 2,017 patients, compared with the 2,737 scans that were actually conducted before reaching a diagnostic decision.

“Implementation of urine steroid metabolomics in the routine diagnostic assessment of newly discovered adrenal masses could reduce the number of imaging procedures required to diagnose adrenocortical carcinoma and avoid unnecessary surgery of benign adrenal tumors, potentially yielding beneficial effects with respect to patient burden and health care costs,” they stress.

And regarding imaging parameters, “we also showed that using a cutoff of 20 HU for unenhanced CT tumor attenuation increases the accuracy of imaging characteristic assessment for exclusion of adrenocortical carcinoma, compared with the currently recommended cutoff of 10 HU, which has immediate implications for clinical practice,” they emphasize.

In an accompanying editorial, Adina F. Turcu, MD, of the division of metabolism, endocrinology, and diabetes, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and Axel K. Walch, MD, of the Helmholtz Zentrum München–German Research Centre for Environmental Health, agree. “The introduction of urine steroid metabolomics into routine clinical practice would provide major advantages,” they state.

However, they point out that, although the overall negative predictive value of the test was excellent, the specificity was weak.

“Thus, urine steroid metabolomics should be limited to patients who have adrenal nodules larger than 4 cm and have qualitative imaging characteristics suggestive of malignancy,” say Dr. Turcu and Dr. Walch.

The EURINE-ACT study results suggest this subgroup would represent roughly only 12% of all patients with adrenal incidentalomas, they add.

Issues that remain to be addressed with regard to the implementation of the screening strategy include how to best respond to patients who are classified as having intermediate or moderate risk of malignancy, and whether the diagnostic value of steroid metabolomics could be refined by adding analytes or parameters, the editorialists conclude.

The study was funded by the European Commission, U.K. Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust, U.K. National Institute for Health Research, U.S. National Institutes of Health, the Claire Khan Trust Fund at University Hospitals Birmingham Charities, and the Mayo Clinic Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

A version of this article originally appeared on


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