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Pheochromocytoma and Paraganglioma Treatment (PDQ®)

  • Last Modified: 11/01/2013

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Pheochromocytoma During Pregnancy



Pregnant women with pheochromocytoma need special care.

Although it is rarely diagnosed during pregnancy, pheochromocytoma can be very serious for the mother and the newborn. Women who have an increased risk of pheochromocytoma should have prenatal testing. Pregnant women with pheochromocytoma should be treated by a team of doctors who are experts in this type of care.

Symptoms of pheochromocytoma in pregnancy may include any of the following:

  • High blood pressure during the first 3 months of pregnancy.
  • Sudden periods of high blood pressure.
  • High blood pressure that is very hard to treat.

The diagnosis of pheochromocytoma in pregnant women includes testing for catecholamine levels in blood and urine. See the General Information section for a description of these tests and procedures. An MRI can be done to safely find tumors in pregnant women because it does not expose the fetus to radiation.

Treatment of pregnant women with pheochromocytoma may include surgery.

Treatment of pheochromocytoma during pregnancy may include the following:

  • Surgery to completely remove the cancer during the second trimester (the fourth through the sixth month of pregnancy).
  • Surgery to completely remove the cancer combined with delivery of the fetus by cesarean section.