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Pheochromocytomas are tumors that occur in the adrenal medullary area; the area located inside of the adrenal glands, and sometimes begin as part of multiple endocrine neoplasia (MEN) syndrome. This condition can also lead to other cancers of the endocrine system and hormonal abnormalities. The majority of pheochromocytomas are benign.


Pheochromocytoma itself often causes the adrenal glands to overproduce hormones called catecholamines. Excessive amounts of these hormones may cause:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Rapid pulse
  • Palpitations
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Clammy skin

Diagnosis and treatment

Specialists at the UPMC Neuroendocrine Cancer Treatment Center use blood and urine tests, as well as imaging tests like CT scanning, to diagnose or rule out pheochromocytoma.