What is a pheochromocytoma?
A pheochromocytoma is a type of tumor that makes hormones that raise your blood pressure. Most pheochromocytomas grow in your adrenal glands Overview of the Adrenal Glands Glands make and release hormones. Hormones are chemicals that stimulate other cells or tissues into action. Because hormones are in your blood, they travel throughout your body. They can affect... read more . Your adrenal glands are located on top of your kidneys.
Some pheochromocytomas are cancerous but most aren't
Pheochromocytomas are often caused by genetic diseases
Pheochromocytomas usually happen between ages 20 and 40
You may have headaches, sweating, and feel your heart beating fast and pounding
Doctors usually do surgery to take out a pheochromocytoma
What causes a pheochromocytoma?
Pheochromocytomas are often caused by rare genetic diseases, such as:
You can also get pheochromocytoma without having one of these diseases. Doctors don't know the cause of pheochromocytoma in these people.
What are the symptoms of a pheochromocytoma?
Fast, pounding heart
Feeling light-headed when standing
Cold and clammy skin
Symptoms often come and go and may feel like a panic attack Panic Attacks and Panic Disorder A panic attack is when all of a sudden you get very scared and anxious. You might also have chest pain and choking and feel sick to your stomach, dizzy, and short of breath. A panic attack goes... read more .
How can doctors tell if I have a pheochromocytoma?
Doctors test for a pheochromocytoma using:
Blood and urine tests
CT scan Computed Tomography A CT scan uses a large machine shaped like a large donut to take x-rays from many angles. A computer then takes the x-rays and creates many detailed pictures of the inside of your body. Each... read more or MRI Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) MRI is a test that uses a machine with a powerful magnet to make pictures of the inside of your body. A computer records changes in the magnetic field around your body. The computer then uses... read more
If you have a pheochromocytoma, doctors may also do genetic tests to see if a rare condition is causing a pheochromocytoma.
How do doctors treat a pheochromocytoma?
Doctors give you medicine to control your blood pressure and then do:
Surgery to remove the tumor