Pheochromocytoma (PCC) is a non-cancerous tumor composed on adrenal gland tissue. The adrenal glands, located on top of each kidney, produce quite a few hormones that regulate fundamental body functions such as immune response, stress, metabolism, heart rate, blood pressure, and the likes. If the glands responsible for the production of these hormones are damaged or impaired, the levels may waver, producing either more or less than what the body needs. When this happens, it can affect the normal functioning of the body.

In the case of pheochromocytoma, the adrenal tumors produce excessive amounts ofepinephrine and norepinephrine. The unpredictable levels in the hormones involved cause the signs and symptoms that are manifested in this condition. The hormones may cause episodic or persistent incidences of high blood pressure which, if left untreated, can cause life-threatening damage especially to the cardiovascular system.

Pheochromocytomas occur rarely, with an incidence rate of 2 to 8 cases per million people annually. It can occur at any age; however, the peak incidence is usually during the second to fifth decades of life.



Pheochromocytoma is said to be an inherited disease, passed on from generations who suffer from genetic conditions associated to similar to PCC. Conditions like neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1), multiple endocrine neoplasia type II (MEN), and Von Hippel-Lindau disease (VHL) are associated with PCC.This condition was, however, previously believed to occur randomly.

Risk factors for pheochromocytoma include incidences of hypoxia in congenital disease and severe unmanaged hypertension.


Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of this condition are the result of the increased production and release of the adrenal hormones. A sudden escalation in the level of adrenal hormones is referred to as an adrenergic crisis. This event causes the affected individual to experience tachycardia and serious hypertension.

Aside from the manifestation of the adrenergic crisis, the usual symptoms of PCC include a sudden onset of acute headaches, abdominal and/or flank pain, orthostatic hypotension, profuse sweating (diaphoresis), unexplainedweight loss, elevation of blood glucose levels, pallor, anxiety, and irritability.

Incidence of symptomatic spells may be triggered by physical exertion, strained bowel movement, changes in body position, labor and delivery when pregnant, and anxiety or stress. Food items that are rich in tyramine (cheese, wine, aged meats, and mainly fermented food products) can also trigger a spell. And also medications such as stimulants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) and nasal decongestants can also cause an affected person to experience the classic symptoms of pheochromocytoma.



The most preferred treatment for PCC is the surgical removal of the tumor which can be done via open laparotomy or through laparoscopy. Prior to surgery, however, medications that will manage the hypertension will be administered by the doctor.

Two types of medication are given: alpha blockers, to keep the blood vessels viable and relaxed thus lessening the blood pressure; and beta blockers, to restrain the effects of adrenaline in the system. If blood pressure is not stabilized with the use of the alpha and beta blockers, other types of hypertension medication may be prescribed.


Disability Tax Credits for Pheochromocytoma

You can apply for a disability tax refund if you have been diagnosed with pheochromocytoma. All you need to do is to secure a disability certification from a qualified medical practitioner. Then you can enlist the help of a HandyTax representative to help you with the necessary steps in making a claim. Get that tax refund that you deserve, call on HandyTax now!