Pheochromocytoma: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 6/23/2020

A pheochromocytoma is a tumor of the interior portion, or medulla, of the adrenal glands that can release high levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine. A pheochromocytoma can also be located elsewhere in the body in similar specialized tissue. In this case, they are referred to as extra-adrenal pheochromocytomas or paragangliomas. Most pheochromocytomas are benign, but about 10% are malignant.

The substances secreted by the tumor cause a number of specific symptoms and signs related to excess epinephrine and norepinephrine. Headache, sweating, and fast heart rate are the characteristic symptoms. Other associated symptoms and signs can include

Cause of pheochromocytoma

Doctors do not understand the cause of a pheochromocytoma.

Other pheochromocytoma symptoms and signs


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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.