Basic Information About Adrenal Pheochromocytoma

What is adrenal pheochromocytoma?

Adrenal pheochromocytoma is a tumor that forms on adrenal glands. In most cases, these tumors are benign (not cancer). But on rare occasions, they are malignant (cancer) and need more treatment.

The tumor causes your adrenal glands to make too much adrenal hormone. Adrenal hormones help your body handle stress and keep your blood sugar and blood pressure levels normal.

They also increase your levels of adrenaline, which can cause a sudden increase in your heart rate and blood pressure called a hypertensive crisis. Hypertensive crisis is a life-threatening condition that needs immediate treatment.

What causes adrenal pheochromocytoma?

Adrenal pheochromocytoma can be

  • sporadic, which means it was caused by changes or problems with your genes.
  • hereditary, which means it was passed to you from your parents. You are more likely to develop adrenal pheochromocytoma if you have a family member with a related disorder.


What are the signs and symptoms of adrenal pheochromocytoma?

The most common sign is sudden and repeated attacks of high blood pressure.

The high blood pressure can cause a severe headache and increase your heart rate, palpitations, and sweating. These attacks may occur daily or monthly. You may also have any of the following:

  • Pain in the abdomen, chest, lower back, or groin
  • Trouble breathing
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue and body weakness
  • Flushed or pale skin
  • Nausea, vomiting, or a fever
  • Nervousness and anxiety


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