What is Pheochromocytoma?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Oct 11, 2012

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Quick Bites

  • Pheochromocytoma is a tumour that occurs in the adrenal gland tissue.
  • It causes persistent or episodic high blood pressure in the patient.
  • If left untreated, it can prove to be life-threatening.
  • It can pose severe damage to cardiovascular system.

Let’s break this scary-looking word into parts so that you can understand its meaning better. Pheochromocytoma is a Greek word which can be broke as: phaios- dark, chroma- colour, kytos- cell, and oma-tumour. So, it is a tumour that occurs in the adrenal gland tissue and is rare. Every person has two adrenal glands, one located above each kidney.

When a person suffers pheochromocytoma, their body releases too much epinephrine and norepinephrine hormones, which control the heart rate, metabolism, and blood pressure. These hormones are responsible for giving instructions to virtually every organ and tissue in the body.

A person suffering form pheochromocytoma will experience persistent or episodic high blood pressure because the adrenal gland releases those hormones. If the condition is not treated properly, it can prove to be life-threatening due to its severe damage to cardiovascular system and other body systems too.

What is Pheochromocytoma

People between the age group of 20 and 50 are at greater risk of getting pheochromocytoma; so basically, it attacks young people. However, the causes of this tumour aren’t known to researchers yet. What is understood medically is that pheochromocytoma develops in specialised cells, known as chromaffin cells which are located in the centre of an adrenal gland.

Though most chromaffin cells are found in the adrenal glands, a person’s heart, head, neck, bladder, back wall of the abdomen and spine may also show their presence. IF these chromaffin cells develop tumour (known as paragangliomas), it results in the same effects on the body.

Image Courtesy: Getty

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