The success of pheochromocytoma treatment depends upon several factors; the most important include: presence of metastasis, genetics, location, and overall extent of the disease. Malignant pheochromocytoma can only be determined by the presence of metastasis or tumor spreading (tumors in locations such as the bone, liver, lungs, or lymph nodes).
The only curative treatment for pheochromocytoma is complete surgical removal of the tumor. The long-term prognosis of patients after resection of a single sporadic pheochromocytoma is excellent.
Even after tumor removal, there is still a risk that pheochomocytoma or paraganglioma might return (called recurrence). Recurrence is more likely for those with paraganglioma, those who are younger, those whose family members also have the disease, and those who had large tumors.1
There is currently no cure for malignant pheochromocytoma. Radiation therapy, or the use of radio waves to destroy tumors, can assist in shrinking some malignant tumors.2 Tumor shrinkage can lessen the clinical signs and symptoms of pheochromocytoma by reducing the production of hormones and in some cases may allow for surgery.
Although not curative, medications are used to control the clinical signs and symptoms of both benign and malignant pheochromocytoma.