Medical Encyclopedia

Pheochromocytoma

What is pheochromocytoma?

Pheochromocytoma is a tumor that produces the so-called stress hormones - catecholamines (epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine). The cells that make up the tumor, located mainly in the adrenal medulla. Typically, hormone of the adrenal medulla in the systemic circulation is regulated by a feedback mechanism. However, in pheochromocytoma, this mechanism ceases to operate, resulting in all the time, produced an excess of hormones, they enter the blood in parts. Due to the fact that epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine affect the heart, blood pressure rises. Tissues that produce these hormones, there is anywhere in the body - and in the brain, and in the bladder and other organs. However, the greatest number (90%) is concentrated in the adrenal glands. Therefore, adrenal tumor called pheochromocytoma.

Symptoms of pheochromocytoma

  • Palpitations, headache, sweating, anxiety.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Pale skin.
  • Sometimes abdominal pain.
  • Emaciation.

Causes of pheochromocytoma

In adults this tumor occurs about equally in men and women. Every tenth patient is a child. The causes of pheochromocytoma are not clear. It was observed that the disease often suffer from the same family. We can therefore assume that the disease is inherited. Sometimes the disease is accompanied by thyroid cancer. Pheochromocytoma is malignant approximately 10% of cases. Cancer cells metastasize to other organs and tissues. Pheochromocytoma predominantly affects people with high blood pressure.

Treatment of pheochromocytoma

Pheochromocytoma

In the first place is determined by tumor location, and then it operates. Degree of difficulty of the surgery depends on the location of the tumor. Sometimes it takes several operations. Pheochromocytoma in 85% of cases is localized in the adrenal glands. The surgeon can remove the tumor and get. If a malignant pheochromocytoma doctors use chemotherapy, prescribe medications that contain radioactive substances.

Self-treatment of pheochromocytoma is not possible. Should see a doctor

The symptoms of pheochromocytoma are inner restlessness, sweating, paroxysmal palpitations, headache, pallor, high blood pressure. The disease is characterized by elevated diastolic blood pressure. Sometimes there is pain in the abdomen and side, reduced body weight. If you have these symptoms should seek medical attention.

The doctor will listen and examine the patient, measure blood pressure. To confirm/exclude the diagnosis of a doctor prescribe conventional laboratory analysis. Special studies are performed in a hospital. Patient's daily urine is examined for the content of adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine. Doctors performed an ultrasound and a computed tomography to assess the status of peritoneal space. Sometimes it is necessary to make a radiograph of the abdominal aorta. In some cases, doctor takes blood samples from the veins of the lower extremity. Often the patient's blood contains an excessive amount of white blood cells and glucose.

Course of the disease

There is constantly high blood pressure approximately half of adults and 90% of children with pheochromocytoma. Benign pheochromocytoma is more common, but after its removal the patient fully recovers. Treatment of high blood pressure in patients with pheochromocytoma is very difficult. Patient suffers from seizures that are accompanied by severe headache, palpitations, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, fainting, tremor, flushing, and blanching of the skin.

If the patient suffers not only pheochromocytoma, and other serious disease in which the operation is undesirable, the doctor prescribe medication that block the action of hormones.

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