Learn About Pheochromocytoma

What is the definition of Pheochromocytoma?

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

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What are the alternative names for Pheochromocytoma?

Chromaffin tumors; Paraganglionoma

What are the causes of Pheochromocytoma?

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. The adrenal glands are two triangle-shaped glands. One gland is located on top of each kidney. In rare cases, a pheochromocytoma occurs outside the adrenal gland. When it does, it is usually somewhere else in the abdomen.

Very few pheochromocytomas are cancerous.

The tumors may occur at any age, but they are most common from early to mid-adulthood.

In few instances, the condition may also be seen among family members (hereditary).

What are the symptoms of Pheochromocytoma?

Most people with this tumor have attacks of a set of symptoms, which happen when the tumor releases hormones. The attacks usually last from a few minutes to hours. The set of symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sweating
  • High blood pressure

As the tumor grows, the attacks often increase in frequency, length, and severity.

Other symptoms that may occur include:

  • Abdominal or chest pain
  • Irritability, nervousness
  • Pallor
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Seizures
  • Problems sleeping
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What are the current treatments for Pheochromocytoma?

Treatment involves removing the tumor with surgery. It is important to stabilize your blood pressure and pulse with certain medicines before surgery. You may need to stay in the hospital and have your vital signs closely monitored around the time of surgery. After surgery, your vital signs will be continuously monitored in an intensive care unit.

When the tumor cannot be surgically removed, you will need to take medicine to manage it. A combination of medicines is usually needed to control the effects of the extra hormones. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy have not been effective in curing this kind of tumor.

Who are the top Pheochromocytoma Local Doctors?
Highly rated in

University of Texas System

Physicians Referral Service

1515 Holcombe Blvd 
Houston, TX 77030

Camilo Jimenez is an Endocrinologist in Houston, Texas. Dr. Jimenez has been practicing medicine for over 27 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Pheochromocytoma. He is also highly rated in 21 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Pheochromocytoma, Adrenal Cancer, Neuroendocrine Tumor, and Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma. He is licensed to treat patients in Texas. Dr. Jimenez is currently accepting new patients.

Highly rated in

Technische Universität Dresden

Dresden, SN, DE 

Graeme Eisenhofer is in Dresden, Germany. Eisenhofer is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Pheochromocytoma. They are also highly rated in 19 other conditions, according to our data. Their top areas of expertise are Pheochromocytoma, Neuroendocrine Tumor, Adrenal Cancer, and Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 2.

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Highly rated in


Department Of Nuclear Medicine, La Timone University Hospital, Aix Marseille University 
Marseille, FR 

David Taieb is in Marseille, France. Taieb is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Pheochromocytoma. He is also highly rated in 23 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Pheochromocytoma, Neuroendocrine Tumor, Adrenal Cancer, and Insulinoma.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Pheochromocytoma?

Most people who have noncancerous tumors that are removed with surgery are still alive after 5 years. The tumors come back in some people. Levels of the hormones norepinephrine and epinephrine return to normal after surgery.

Continued high blood pressure may occur after surgery. Standard treatments can usually control the high blood pressure.

People who have been successfully treated for pheochromocytoma should have testing from time to time to make sure the tumor has not returned. Close family members may also benefit from testing, because some cases are inherited.

When should I contact a medical professional for Pheochromocytoma?

Call your provider if you:

  • Have symptoms of pheochromocytoma, such as headache, sweating, and palpitations
  • Had a pheochromocytoma in the past and your symptoms return
Endocrine glands
Adrenal metastases - CT scan
Adrenal Tumor - CT
Adrenal gland hormone secretion
What are the latest Pheochromocytoma Clinical Trials?
The MUPPET-study: Multicenter Pheochromocytoma and Paraganglioma Evaluation for Follow-up Screening, Genetics Sub-Typing, Therapy and Outcome
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Development of a Tele-monitoring Program for Patients Undergoing Surgery for Pheochromocytoma and / or Paraganglioma
What are the Latest Advances for Pheochromocytoma?
Cushing syndrome due to ectopic ACTH secreting pheochromocytoma.
A Nomogram for Predicting Intraoperative Hemodynamic Instability in Patients With Pheochromocytoma.
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External Validation of a Clinical Score for Patients With Neuroendocrine Tumors Under Consideration for Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date : July 28, 2020
Published By : Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

National Cancer Institute website. Pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma treatment (PDQ) - health professional version. Cancer.gov. www.cancer.gov/types/pheochromocytoma/hp/pheochromocytoma-treatment-pdq#link/_38_toc. Updated September 23, 2020. Accessed October 14, 2020.

Pacak K, Timmers HJLM, Eisenhofer G. Pheochromocytoma. In: Jameson JL, De Groot LJ, de Kretser DM, et al, eds. Endocrinology: Adult and Pediatric. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 110.

Brigode WM, Miraflor EJ, Palmer BJA. The management of pheochromocytoma. In: Cameron AM, Cameron JL, eds. Current Surgical Therapy. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:750-756.