What is Phaeochromocytoma?
Phaeochromocytoma comes from a variety of old-time words. The first is a Greek one, phaios meaning dark, chroma meaning color, kytos meaning cell, and oma meaning a tumour. So, by putting them all together you have a tumor with dark-colored cells.
Phaeochromocytoma is a tumor of the adrenal medulla, is relatively uncommon, and leads to high blood pressure and other symptoms. There may be a familial incidence, and it will most likely occur between the ages of twenty and forty years. Although ninety percent are in the abdomen and in the adrenal glands, similar tumors may grow elsewhere with similar symptoms.
This condition may mimic other disorders, making diagnosis very difficult. The starting point may be attacks lasting fifteen minutes in which there is excessive perspiration, thumping of the heart and cardiac irregularities, feelings of anxiety and nervousness, coldness and paleness, breathlessness, probably respiratory difficulty, nausea, vomiting and headaches.
The condition is a tumor or growth in the inner part, the medulla of the adrenal gland. It causes a massive overproduction of adrenaline. So symptoms may include headaches, bouts of anxiety, palpitations as the heart bangs away violently in the chest. Diarrhea, dilated pupils, probably blurred vision, abdominal pains and the blood pressure is usually raised. Indeed, elevated blood pressure may be the salient factor. These symptoms tend to persist.
These symptoms may come on spontaneously or following activity, emotional upsets, minor accidents or surgical operations. Diagnosis may be difficult, for symptoms of this nature may suggest a variety of disorders. However, it must be considered in a person with these symptoms plus high blood pressure. Various screening tests aimed at showing an excessive amount of adrenaline in the system are available.
Various medications can help overcome the elevated blood pressure. However, if the tumor can be identified, surgical removal is the most satisfactory form of therapy. Unless treated promptly, the condition is fatal, death occurring as a result of heart failure or a stroke. One expert states that, “Surgical treatment usually induces a complete remission of the clinical manifestations.”