Among patients with adrenal masses adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC) and malignant pheochromocytomas (MPH) are found with a low incidence but very unfavourable prognosis. Owing to this poor clinical outcome, concomitant hormone dysregulation and limited treatment options the two cancer entities severely impact on affected patients. However, the rarity of the tumors also impedes clinical studies which are affected by fragmentation and low cohort sizes.
The European Network for the Study of Adrenal Tumors (ENS@T) has recently implemented a collection of adrenal tumor related databases and defined an associated network of Biological Resource Centers devoted to research on adrenal tumors. The concurrence of recent achievements of this evolving network, the progress in the understanding of molecular mechanisms and increasing availability of specific diagnostic and therapeutic tools for adrenal cancers provides the unique opportunity to achieve unmatched progress in the implementation of both translation and clinical research dedicated to ACC and MPH. Specifically, the newly formed ENS@T-CANCER consortium will address the following topics: i) structuring European clinical and translational research through implementation of a virtual research environment, ii) improving clinical outcome of patients with adrenal cancer by conducting interventional trials carried out by European centers of excellence, iii) improvement of differential diagnosis and risk stratification of adrenal cancer, iv) identification and validation of tools for follow-up of patients with adrenal cancer, v) identification of novel biomarkers for treatment response.
The ultimate aim of the ENS@T-CANCER Consortium is to develop research in the field of adrenal cancers to improve diagnosis and treatment abilities. The Network will allow recruiting sufficient patients in all relevant European centers, to harmonize diagnosis criteria and to use the various technological approaches of a number of laboratories.