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Pheochromocytoma

Pheochromocytoma is a rare tumor that usually starts in the cells of one of your adrenal glands. Although they are usually benign, pheochromocytomas often cause the adrenal gland to make too many hormones. This can lead to high blood pressure and cause symptoms such as

  • Headaches
  • Sweating
  • Pounding of the heart
  • Being shaky
  • Being extremely pale

Sometimes pheochromocytoma is part of another condition called multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome (MEN). People with MEN often have other cancers and other problems involving hormones.

Doctors use lab tests and imaging tests to diagnose it. Surgery is the most common treatment. Other options include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy. Targeted therapy uses substances that attack cancer cells without harming normal cells.

NIH: National Cancer Institute

Symptoms of Pheochromocytoma

The following features are indicative of Pheochromocytoma:
  • headaches
  • sweating
  • pounding of the heart
  • being shaky
  • being extremely pale
It is possible that Pheochromocytoma shows no physical symptoms and still be present in a patient.

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Common Causes of Pheochromocytoma

The following are the most common causes of Pheochromocytoma:
  • excess hormone release from adrenal gland
  • genetic mutation
  • neurofibromatosis type 1
  • hereditary paraganglioma syndrome
  • Carney-Stratakis dyad

Risk Factors for Pheochromocytoma

The following factors may increase the likelihood of Pheochromocytoma:
  • multiple endocrine neoplasia, type II (MEN II)
  • Von Hippel-Lindau disease
  • Neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1)
  • hereditary paraganglioma syndrome

Prevention of Pheochromocytoma

No, it is not possible to prevent Pheochromocytoma.
  • genetic factors

Occurrence of Pheochromocytoma

Number of Cases

The following are the number of Pheochromocytoma cases seen each year worldwide:
  • Rare between 10K - 50K cases

Common Age Group

Pheochromocytoma most commonly occurs in the following age group:
  • Aged between 20-50 years

Common Gender

Pheochromocytoma can occur in any gender.

Lab Tests and Procedures for Diagnosis of Pheochromocytoma

The following lab tests and procedures are used to detect Pheochromocytoma:
  • Physical exam and history: To check the general signs of health
  • Twenty-four-hour urine test: To measure the amounts of catecholamines in the urine
  • Blood catecholamine studies: To measure the amount of certain catecholamines released into the blood
  • CT scan: To see the detailed pictures of areas inside the body
  • Magnetic resonance imaging: To make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body

Doctor for Diagnosis of Pheochromocytoma

Patients should visit the following specialists if they have symptoms of Pheochromocytoma:
  • Oncologist
  • Radiation Oncologist
  • Endocrinologist

Complications of Pheochromocytoma if untreated

Yes, Pheochromocytoma causes complications if it is not treated. Below is the list of complications and problems that may arise if Pheochromocytoma is left untreated:
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • kidney failure
  • acute respiratory distress
  • damage to the nerves of the eye

Procedures for Treatment of Pheochromocytoma

The following procedures are used to treat Pheochromocytoma:
  • Surgery: Removal of cancerous cells
  • Radiation therapy: To kill the cancerous cells
  • Chemotherapy: Kill the remaining cancerous cells after surgery

Patient Support for Treatment of Pheochromocytoma

The following actions may help Pheochromocytoma patients:
  • Genetic counseling: Provides information about the disease and helps them in making medical and personal decisions

Time for Treatment of Pheochromocytoma

While time-period of treatment for each patient may vary, below is the typical time-period for Pheochromocytoma to resolve if treated properly under an expert supervision:
  • More than 1 year

Related Topics

Last updated date

This page was last updated on 2/04/2019.
This page provides information for Pheochromocytoma.

Related Topics

Adrenal Gland Disorders

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