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What are the treatment options for pheochromocytoma?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

While surgery is the chief treatment option for pheochromocytoma, doctors often have to take several preliminary steps before surgical removal. First, the doctor may prescribe a medicine like pheoxybenzamine to stop your adrenal glands' rapid hormone emission. Then a doctor will prescribe a beta blocker to monitor blood pressure and other symptoms. Once you are medicated, the doctor can perform surgery to remove the tumor.

In the event that the tumor is cancerous and has spread to other parts of the body, surgery is not possible. In this case, doctors recommend chemotherapy and radiation to stop the growth.

Not treating pheochromocytoma is incredibly dangerous and life-threatening. The best treatment for pheochromocytoma is to surgically remove the adrenal gland(s) with the tumor. This is true for almost all patients except for those with such severe other medical issues that they would not survive an operation. Medical therapy to block the effects of adrenaline excess is available but is not nearly as effective as adrenalectomy. Patients can breakthrough the medication and have life-threatening problems. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.