Pheochromocytoma - update on disease management
SourceTherapeutic Advances in Endocrinology and Metabolism, 3, 1, (2012), pp. 11-26
Article / Letter to editor
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Therapeutic Advances in Endocrinology and Metabolism
SubjectNCEBP 14: Cardiovascular diseases
Pheochromocytomas are rare endocrine tumors that can present insidiously and remain undiagnosed until death or onset of clear manifestations of catecholamine excess. They are often referred to as one of the 'great mimics' in medicine. These tumors can no longer be regarded as a uniform disease entity, but rather as a highly heterogeneous group of chromaffin cell neoplasms with different ages of onset, secretory profiles, locations, and potential for malignancy according to underlying genetic mutations. These aspects all have to be considered when the tumor is encountered, thereby enabling optimal management for the patient. Referral to a center of specialized expertise for the disease should be considered wherever possible. This is not only important for surgical management of patients, but also for post-surgical follow up and screening of disease in patients with a hereditary predisposition to the tumor. While preoperative management has changed little over the last 20 years, surgical procedures have evolved so that laparoscopic resection is the standard of care and partial adrenalectomy should be considered in all patients with a hereditary condition. Follow-up testing is essential and should be recommended and ensured on a yearly basis. Managing such patients must now also take into account possible underlying mutations and the appropriate selection of genes for testing according to disease presentation. Patients and family members with identified mutations then require an individualized approach to management. This includes consideration of distinct patterns of biochemical test results during screening and the appropriate choice of imaging studies for tumor localization according to the mutation and associated differences in predisposition to adrenal, extra-adrenal and metastatic disease.
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