This information is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD).
Pheochromocytomas are tumors of the adrenal glands. These glands are located right above the kidneys. Pheochromocytomas cause the adrenal glands to make too many stress hormones called epinephrines and norepinephrines. This can lead to high blood pressure and cause symptoms such as severe headaches, irritability, sweating, rapid heart rate, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, weakness, chest pain, and anxiety. Rarely, this kind of tumor occurs outside the adrenal gland, usually somewhere in the abdomen. These are called extra-adrenal pheochromocytomas or paragangliomas. The cause of most pheochromocytomas is unknown. In some cases, there is a genetic cause. This type of tumor can occur in certain familial genetic syndromes, including multiple endocrine neoplasia, type 2 (MEN2), neurofibromatosis type 1, Von Hippel-Lindau disease, hereditary paraganglioma-pheochromocytoma syndrome, Carney triad, and Carney-Stratakis dyad. There are also several genes that have been associated with pheochromocytoma when it does not occur as part of a syndrome.
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