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Malignant pheochromocytomas are divided into categories based on the extent of the tumour.
Recurrent pheochromocytoma means that the cancer that has come back (has recurred) after it has been treated.
The following are treatment options for malignant pheochromocytomas. The types of treatments given are based on the unique needs of the person with cancer.
Supportive therapy is an essential part of treatment for malignant pheochromocytoma. It is used to control high blood pressure and irregular heart rhythms caused by excessive hormones produced by the tumour. Blood pressure and heart rhythms must return to normal before the person can have surgery.
Surgery is the primary treatment for malignant pheochromocytomas. The types of surgery done depend on the extent of the tumour:
After surgery, hormone replacement therapy may be needed until hormone levels return to normal. If both adrenal glands are removed, the people will need steroid replacement for the rest of their lives.
Radiation therapy may be offered to treat metastatic and recurrent malignant pheochromocytomas. The types of radiation therapy are:
Chemotherapy may be offered to treat metastatic and recurrent malignant pheochromocytomas. The most common chemotherapy combination used is:
People with pheochromocytoma may be offered the opportunity to participate in clinical trials. For more information, go to clinical trials.
A clinical trial led by the Society’s NCIC Clinical Trials group found that men with prostate cancer who are treated with intermittent courses of hormone therapy live as long as those receiving continuous therapy.