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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Other Names for this Disease
  • Chromaffin cell tumor
  • Chromaffin paraganglioma
  • Chromaffin tumor
  • Chromaffinoma
  • Medullary paraganglioma
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Pheochromocytomas are rare tumors of the adrenal glands, which are located right above the kidneys. Although they are usually not cancerous (benign), pheochromocytomas often cause the adrenal glands to make too many stress hormones called epinephrines and norepinephrines. This can lead to high blood pressure and cause symptoms such as severe headaches, irritability, sweating, rapid heart rate, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, weakness, chest pain, and a feeling of anxiety. Rarely, this kind of tumor occurs outside the adrenal gland, usually somewhere in the abdomen, and are called extra-adrenal pheochromocytomas or paragangliomas.[1][2][3][4] Pheochromocytomas can occur in certain familial genetic syndromes.[4]
Last updated: 4/27/2011


  1. Pheochromocytoma. MedlinePlus. January 2011; Accessed 3/18/2011.
  2. Pheochromocytoma. PubMed Health. September 2010; Accessed 3/18/2011.
  3. Sweeney AT & Blake MA. Pheochromocytoma. eMedicine. April 2010; Accessed 3/18/2011.
  4. Pheochromocytoma. Patient Education. Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health. Accessed 3/18/2011.
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  • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. Click on the link to view this information. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
  • The Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) is an catalog of human genes and genetic disorders. Each entry has a summary of related medical articles. It is meant for health care professionals and researchers. OMIM is maintained by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 
  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Pheochromocytoma. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.