A rare type of tumor, which usually is not cancer, that develops in an adrenal gland.


Pheochromocytomas form in cells, called chromaffin cells, located in the center of the adrenal glands. These tumors make hormones that can trigger a variety of symptoms. If a pheochromocytoma isn't treated, it may cause severe damage to other body systems. Most of these tumors are discovered in people between the ages of 20 and 50.


Symptoms may include high blood pressure, headache, heavy sweating, rapid heartbeat, tremors, pale skin, shortness of breath and panic attack-type symptoms. Symptoms may be constant, or they may come and go. Some activities or conditions can make them worse. So can foods high in a substance called tyramine, as well as certain medicines.


The main treatment for a pheochromocytoma is surgery to remove the tumor. Before surgery, blood pressure medicines usually are prescribed to block high-adrenaline hormones and lower the risk of developing dangerously high blood pressure during surgery.

Last Updated Apr 8, 2023

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