Pheochromocytoma: an update on genetics and management

Division of Endocrinology, Second Propedeutic Department of Internal Medicine, Medical School, Hippokration Hospital, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki 54642, Greece.
Endocrine Related Cancer (Impact Factor: 4.91). 01/2008; 14(4):935-56. DOI: 10.1677/ERC-07-0142
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Pheochromocytomas (PHEOs) are rare neoplasms that produce catecholamines and usually arise from the adrenal medulla and are considered to be an adrenal paraganglioma (PGL). Closely related tumors of extraadrenal sympathetic and parasympathetic paraganglia are classified as extraadrenal PGLs. Most PHEOs are sporadic, but a significant percentage (approximately 25%) may be found in patients with germline mutations of genes predisposing to the development of von Hippel-Lindau disease, neurofibromatosis 1, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) and 2 (MEN2), and the PGL/PHEOs syndrome, based on the described mutations of the genes for succinate dehydrogenase subunit D (SDHD), B (SDHB), and C (SDHC). As one out of four PHEOs turns out to be a hereditary clinical entity, screening for genetic alterations is important, as it provides useful information for a rational diagnostic approach and management. This review discusses the genetics, the pathophysiology of hypertension, the clinical picture, the biochemical and imaging diagnosis, and the preferred therapeutic approach for PGLs/PHEOs. Furthermore, it emphasizes the need for genetic testing in cases with apparently sporadic PHEOs.

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