A pheochromocytoma is a rare type of tumor. It grows in the middle of an adrenal gland. Your body has 2 adrenal glands. They are found on top of each kidney. Each layer of these glands makes different hormones. The middle part of the adrenal glands makes epinephrine and norepinephrine. These hormones help keep your heart rate and blood pressure normal. A pheochromocytoma causes the adrenal glands to make too much of these hormones.
It’s not known what causes this type of tumor. But if someone in your family has this type of tumor, you are more likely to have it.
Pheochromocytomas happen equally in men and women. They often show up when you are in your 30s, 40s, or 50s.
The most common sign of a pheochromocytoma is high blood pressure. It can be always high or sometimes high. Sometimes the tumor can cause high blood pressure that can be life threatening. It is a very rare cause of high blood pressure. But it must be considered when medicine is not enough to control high blood pressure.
Other symptoms are less common. They can be brought on when you are under stress or when you change positions. Each person’s symptoms may vary. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of a pheochromocytoma may seem like other health problems. Always see your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Your healthcare provider will take your medical history and give you a physical exam. You may also need tests such as:
Your healthcare provider will figure out the best treatment for you based on:
Treatment may include:
Most of these tumors are benign. This means they are not cancer. Many will not come back after they are removed. If the tumor comes back or spreads to some other place in the body, it may be cancer. It is hard to tell a benign tumor from a cancerous one simply by looking at it.
Tell your healthcare provider if your symptoms come back or get worse. Also tell your provider if you have any new symptoms.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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