Pheochromocytomas are a rare type of benign (non-cancerous) tumor that develops in the lining of the adrenal glands. They release hormones such as epinephrine and norepinephrine into the bloodstream, which can cause a variety of symptoms, such as high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, and headaches.


Common symptoms of pheochromocytoma include:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Frequent episodes of sweating
  • Headache
  • Palpitations (rapid heart beat)
  • Anxiety
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Increased urination
  • Tremors


Pheochromocytomas are diagnosed with a combination of tests, including:

  • Urine tests to detect high levels of hormones
  • Imaging studies such as CT scans, MRIs, and PET scans
  • Blood tests to measure hormone levels
  • Biopsy of the tumor


Depending on the size and location of the tumor, treatment may involve:

  • Surgery to remove the tumor
  • Medication to control hormone levels
  • Radiation therapy to shrink the tumor
  • Chemotherapy to shrink the tumor

If left untreated, pheochromocytoma can lead to serious and life-threatening complications, including heart attack, stroke, and aneurysm.