Pheochromocytoma

Alternative Names

Chromaffin tumors; Paraganglionoma

Definition of Pheochromocytoma

Pheochromocytoma is a rare of adrenal gland tissue. It results in the release of too much epinephrine and norepinephrine, hormones that control heart rate, metabolism, and blood pressure .

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Pheochromocytoma may occur as a single tumor or as more than one growth. It usually develops in the center (medulla) of one or both adrenal glands. Rarely, this kind of tumor occurs outside the adrenal gland, usually somewhere else in the abdomen.

Signs and tests

The doctor will perform a physical exam. You may have high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and fever during an attack of symptoms. Your vital signs can be normal at other times.

Treatment

Treatment involves removing the tumor with surgery. It is important to stabilize blood pressure and pulse with medication before surgery. You may need to stay in the hospital with close monitoring of your vital signs.

Expectations (prognosis)

Most patients who have noncancerous tumors that are removed with surgery are still alive after 5 years. The tumors come back in less than 10% of these patients. Levels of the hormones norepinephrine and epinephrine return to normal after surgery.

Review

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 9/26/2010

Endocrine glands
Adrenal metastases, CT scan
Adrenal Tumor - CT
Adrenal gland hormone secretion

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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