What is the likelihood of malignancy for pheochromocytomas?

Updated: Aug 10, 2018
  • Author: Michael A Blake, MBBCh, MRCPI, FRCR; Chief Editor: George T Griffing, MD  more...
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Answer

Approximately 10% of pheochromocytomas and 35% of extra-adrenal pheochromocytomas are malignant. Only the presence of metastases defines malignancy. However, specific histologic features help to differentiate adrenal pheochromocytomas with a potential for biologically aggressive behavior from those that behave in a benign fashion. Among the features that suggest a malignant course are large tumor size and an abnormal DNA ploidy pattern (aneuploidy, tetraploidy). [6]  Common metastatic sites include bone, liver, and lymph nodes.


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