Pheochromocytoma is a rare tumor that forms in your chromaffn cells, often starting in one of your adrenal glands. Pheochromocytoma usually causes the tumor affected adrenal gland to make and secrete too much of its hormones.
Your adrenal glands are part of your endocrine system, on top of each kidney. Your adrenals produce epinephrine and norepinephrine, which helps your body maintain heart rate, blood pressure and cope with stress. It also produces other hormones needed for:
- maintaining fluid and salt balance
- instructions to nearly every organ & tissue
Essentially, adrenal produced hormones promote a healthy working body.
Excessive secretion of adrenaline or noradrenaline hormones can cause persistent or wild fluctuations of high blood pressure. This depends on whether these adrenal hormones are released continuously or in short bursts. And physical and emotional stress are situations that usually trigger their release.
- pale skin
- chest pain
- weight loss
- panic attacks
- hand tremors
- extreme fright
- vision problems
- severe sweating
- heart palpitations
- increased appetite
- upper abdominal pain
In the event your adrenal gland tumor causes a sudden release of a large amount of adrenaline, you may experience a hypertensive crisis ~ blood pressure shooting up to as high as 250/150.
This situation can lead to some very dangerous conditions, such as:
In the long run, excessive release of adrenal hormones causing uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to:
And all this potential for a premature death may not happen because of treatment.
The standard treatment for pheochromocytoma is removal of your tumor or the affected adrenal gland, an operation known as a adrenalectomy.
Frequently, pheochromocytoma adrenal tumors are benign and don’t spread. However, about a third of the cases are cancerous, which may spread to nearby lymph nodes or other tissue.