In some cases, pheochromocytomas run in families or are associated with an inherited condition, such as:

  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia, type II (MEN II). In addition to a pheochromocytoma, people with MEN II also have a rare form of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid cancer. There are two subsets of MEN II, which include pheochromocytoma with medullary thyroid cancer and hyperparathyroidism (MEN IIA), and pheochromocytoma with medullary thyroid cancer and tumors of nerves in the lips, mouth, eyes and digestive tract (MEN IIB).
  • Von Hippel-Lindau disease. People with this rare multisystem disorder are at high risk of pheochromocytoma.
  • Neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1). Pheochromocytomas sometimes occur in people with NF1, a syndrome that includes multiple tumors in the skin (neurofibromas), pigmented skin spots and tumors of the optic nerve.

Most pheochromocytomas are noncancerous (benign) and don't spread to other parts of your body. However, cancerous (malignant) pheochromocytomas can spread throughout your body, including your brain, lungs or bone.

Apr. 05, 2011