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What are the treatments for pheochromocytoma?

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Standard treatments for pheochromocytoma include1,2:

  • Surgical removal of the tumor
  • Medications (chemotherapy) designed to kill tumor cells
  • Radiotherapy: utilizing radio waves to destroy the tumors
  • Medications to control the signs and symptoms of the disease

Types of Therapies for Pheochromocytoma:

Ninety percent of patients are cured by surgery to remove benign pheochromocytoma tumors.3 Surgery for tumor removal is typically done by laparoscopy, during which a small incision is made in the abdomen.3,4 During surgery to remove the tumor, the physician will usually examine nearby organs to determine whether the pheochromocytoma has spread to other parts of the body.

Medications are prescribed to treat the clinical signs and symptoms of pheochromocytoma.

Commonly prescribed medications include the following1:

  • Alpha-adrenergic blockers to lower blood pressure
  • Beta blockers for controlling rapid, irregular pulse

For tumors that are successfully removed, blood pressure and hormone levels usually return to normal over the weeks immediately following surgery.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) provides more information about pheochromocytoma.


  1. National Cancer Institute. (2012). Pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma treatment (PDQ). Retrieved March 7, 2012, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0033247/ [top]
  2. Waguespack, S. G., Rich, T., Grubbs, E., Ying, A. K., Perrier, N. D., Ayala-Ramirez, M., et al. (2010). A current review of the etiology, diagnosis, and treatment of pediatric pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. 95(5), 2023–2037. PMID 20215394 [top]
  3. National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. (2007). Patient education: Pheochromocytoma. Retrieved March 30, 2012, from http://www.cc.nih.gov/ccc/patient_education/pepubs/pheo.pdf (PDF - 383 KB) [top]
  4. Lentschener, C., Gaujoux, S., Tesniere, A., & Dousset, B. (2011). Point of controversy: Perioperative care of patients undergoing pheochromocytoma removal—time for a reappraisal? European Journal of Endocrinology, 165(: 365-373. [top]

Last Updated Date: 11/30/2012
Last Reviewed Date: 07/29/2013
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