Pheochromocytoma is a rare neuroendocrine tumor that arises from adrenal glands, or extra-adrenal chromaffin tissue that failed to involute after birth. The tumor produces extra adrenaline - a hormone which affects the following functions of your body: blood pressure, heart rate, digestion, breathing, sexual arousal, urination, and sweating. Moreover, adrenaline helps the body react and respond to stressful situations by boosting the supply of glucose and oxygen to the muscle and brain. Pheochromocytoma secretes extra adrenaline in an uncontrolled way and can cause severe health problems, including heart attack, stroke, and even death.
|Drug name||Generic Name||Coupon|
|Metoprolol (Toprol, Lopressor)|
|Propranolol (Innopran, Inderal)|
Individuals with a Pheochromocytoma typically have four classic symptoms, like sweating, headache, heart palpitations, and high blood pressure (hypertension). However, some people (up to 10%) never have symptoms of a pheochromocytoma and discover the disease incidentally. In some cases, the high blood pressure is a nonpermanent symptom. Sometimes, patients with Pheochromocytoma may have spells with the following symptoms:
Other symptoms associated with Pheochromocytoma may also occur:
The frequency of spells may vary in time (from monthly to several times per day), duration (from seconds to hours) and intensity (become more severe with the tumor growth).
It is not know exactly what causes Pheochromocytoma. The tumor develops in chromaffin cells, which are located in the adrenal gland center, usually in the center of one or both adrenal glands. In some cases, the tumor may occur outside of glands. Pheochromocytoma may be caused by overactivity of the sympathetic nervous system, which governs the release of a hormone in response to fear or stress. This condition may be caused by the following factors:
Pheochromocytoma may develop at any age, but they mostly occur from early to mid-adulthood. It is also believed that Pheochromocytoma may be inherited, i.e. passed down through families. Patients who inherit this type of tumor may also have the following genetic conditions:
Pheochromocytoma may be diagnosed in anyone with the following symptoms: headache, heart palpitations, and sweating. If a patient has no habits or risk factors that may cause these symptoms, a doctor may prescribe certain tests to measure the culprit hormones metabolites. Pheochromocytoma is diagnosed by the following ways:
After biochemical studies have confirmed the diagnosis of Pheochromocytoma, the following imaging studies should be made:
There may be additional tests to study a familial syndrome in patients with confirmed pheochromocytoma:
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