What is Chromaffin Tumours (Phaeochromocytoma)

A chromaffin tumour or phaeochromocytoma is a tumour of the adrenal gland. It usually develops in the medulla (center or core) of one or both adrenal glands.

Statistics on Chromaffin Tumours (Phaeochromocytoma)

The tumours may occur at any age, but they are most common in young-adult to mid-adult life. Phaeochromocytoma occurs in less than 1% of hypertension cases.

Risk Factors for Chromaffin Tumours (Phaeochromocytoma)

Multiple Endocrine neoplasia (MEN type 2)

Progression of Chromaffin Tumours (Phaeochromocytoma)

Phaeochromocytoma may occur as a single tumour or as multiple growths. It usually develops in the medulla (center or core) of one or both adrenal glands. Sometimes this kind of tumour occurs outside the adrenal gland, usually somewhere else in the abdomen. Less than 10% of phaeochromocytomas are malignant (cancerous), with the potential to spread to other parts of the body.

How is Chromaffin Tumours (Phaeochromocytoma) Diagnosed?

Vital signs (temperature, pulse, rate of breathing, blood pressure) reveal high blood pressure (hypertension) that may be sustained or episodic, rapid heart rate, and elevated temperature.

Prognosis of Chromaffin Tumours (Phaeochromocytoma)

For patients who have noncancerous tumours that are removed with surgery, the 5-year survival rate is 95%, with recurrence in less than 10% of patients. Hormone secretion of norepinephrine and epinephrine returns to normal after surgery. For patients who have malignant tumours, the 5-year survival rate after surgery is less than 50%.

How is Chromaffin Tumours (Phaeochromocytoma) Treated?

The definitive treatment is removal of the tumour by surgery. Continuous monitoring of all vital signs is necessary in the postoperative period in an intensive care unit. Stabilization of the person’s vital signs with medication prior to surgery is important and may require hospitalization. In the case of an inoperable tumour, management with medication is necessary. Radiation therapy or chemotherapy have not been effective in curing this kind of tumour.

Chromaffin Tumours (Phaeochromocytoma) References

  1. Longmore M, Wilkinson I, Torok E. OXFORD HANDBOOK OF CLINICAL MEDICINE. Oxford Universtiy Press. 2001
  2. Pheochromocytoma as retrieved from www.nlm.nih.gov on 30/12/2003 [3]
  3. Robbins, S.L., Cotran, R.S., Kumar, V. Robbins Pathologic Basis of Disease 5th ed. W.B. Saunders 1995.

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