Pheochromocytoma Support Foundation

  Shining the light on pheochromocytoma awareness through education, early detection, and support. 

Please be advised this page is undergoing modification. Information is subject to updates and/or changes. 

Please check back frequently for updates.

Commonly Overlooked Symptoms of a Pheochromocytoma:

  • Diabetes symptoms 
  • Tremors
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss
  • Anxiety, impending sense of doom
  • Stroke symptoms  
  • Panic attacks 
  • Heart palpitations 
  • Blurred vision 
  • Low blood presure 
  • Psychiatric disturbances 

Brief Diagnosis of a Pheochromocytoma

  • Pheochromocytomas are usually located in the adrenal medulla. 
  • Symptoms typically include headaches (most often at base of skull or encompassing entire cranium), sweating, palpitations, and high blood pressure.  
  • High levels of catecholamines (epinephrine and norepinephrine) are typically present in the urine and/or blood, although not always.

Treatment Information

Please see our Pheochromocytoma Treatment page. 

Common Issues/Complaints After Treatment & Course of Action

Dopamine Withdrawal Symptoms
Patients may experience: disorientation, anxiety and panic attacks, erratic blood pressure, sleep problems, mood swings, a feeling of emotional "numbness" or a lack of emotion, feelings of tremors and shakiness, hot flashes, issues controlling weight and weight gain, a feeling of loss, depression, and a general feeling of being mentally imbalanced or "un-level". This is potentially linked to dopamine withdrawals in the body. The intensity of these feelings and symptoms varies, and appears to be linked to how long the patient carried the tumor.
Action: At this time, their is not enough medical evidence for recommendation. Symptoms generally stop over time. Counseling can be helpful to the patient. 
Difficulty Living Normally or Returning to Normal Life
Patients often report a feeling of difficulty returning to a normal life, as their life has been shaken drastically and the effects (symptoms) of the pheochromocytoma had a huge and often devastating effect on the patient's life for a number of years. Dopamine withdrawal symptoms can make further the difficulty of this. 
Action: It is highly recommended that patients who have experienced the effects of pheochromocytomas, particularly if the effects were long term, seek mental health care to for psychosocial symptoms. 
Signs of Adrenal Insufficiency
While rare, signs of adrenal insufficiency do occur and is particularly found in MEN2 patients. 
Action: Perform blood draw to test for low adrenal hormone levels.

Note: 

Not all patients will experience the same issues or problems after treatment. 

Recommended Reference Material

This reference material should be available to your medical organization, found through a local research hospital or library. 

If you cannot locate this material, please contact us and we will help provide any material that we have access to. 

Castinetti, F., Kroiss, A., Kumar, R., Pacak, K., Taieb, D. (2015). 15 Years of Paraganglioma: Imaging and imaging-based treatment of pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma.  Endocrine-Related Cancer. doi: 10.1530/ERC-15-0175


Adjallé, R., Plouin, P. F., Pacak, K., & Lehnert, H. (2009). Treatment of malignant pheochromocytoma. Hormone and Metabolic Research = Hormon- Und Stoffwechselforschung = Hormones Et Métabolisme, 41(9), 687.


Eisenhofer, G, Siegert, G, Kotzerke, J, Bornstein, S R, & Pacak, K. (2008). Current progress and future challenges in the biochemical diagnosis and treatment of pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas. Hormone and Metabolic Research = Hormon- Und Stoffwechselforschung = Hormones Et Métabolisme, 40(5), 329.


Dong, D., & Li, H. (2014). Diagnosis and treatment of pheochromocytoma during pregnancy. Journal Of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, 27(18), 1930-1934. doi:10.3109/14767058.2014.880883