What're the treatments for pheochromocytoma?
Laparoscopic surgical removal of the tumor is the treatment of choice for pheochromocytoma. Before surgery, medications such as alpha-adrenergic blockers are given to block the effect of the hormones and normalize blood pressure. Laparoscopic laparotomy is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure performed under general or local anesthesia. A small
incision is made in the abdomen. The laparoscope is inserted into the incision and the tumor is removed. Laparoscopic laparotomy enables the patient to return to normal activities with two weeks.
Traditional laparotomy is performed in a hospital under spinal or general anesthesia and requires 5-7 days in the hospital and a four-week recovery period. The surgical mortality rate is less than 3%. A beta-blocker, such as Inderal, may also be used. For patients for whom surgery is not appropriate, drug therapy with alpha- and beta-adrenergic blockers can often control the effects of excess hormone production and prevent attacks. During an acute attack or a hypertensive crisis, intravenous Regitine or Nipride are administered to bring the blood pressure down to normal
Surgery is the most common treatment of pheochromocytoma. A doctor may remove one or both adrenal glands in an operation called adrenalectomy. The doctor will look inside the abdomen to make sure all the cancer is removed. If the cancer has spread, lymph nodes or other tissues may also be taken out.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be taken by pill, or it may be put into the body by a needle in the vein or muscle. Chemotherapy is called a systemic treatment because the drug enters the bloodstream, travels through the body, and can kill cancer cells throughout the body.
Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation comes from a machine outside the body (external radiation therapy). Radiation therapy uses high-energy x rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Because there is no evidence that radiation therapy is effective in the treatment of malignant pheochromocytoma, it is not often used for treatment. However, it is useful in the treatment of painful bone metastases if the tumor has spread to the bones.
Untreated pheochromocytoma can be fatal due to complications of the high blood pressure. In the vast majority of cases, when the tumor is surgically removed, pheochromocytoma is cured. In the minority of cases (10%) where pheochromocytoma is malignant, prognosis depends on how far the cancer has spread, and the patient's age and general health. The overall median five-year survival from the initial time of surgery and diagnosis is approximately 43%.