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      Prognosis of Children with Malignant Pheochromocytoma

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          Malignant pheochromocytomas are rare in childhood and the prognosis of children with this tumor is not well known. We present 2 pediatric observations of malignant pelvic pheochromocytoma. Symptoms in both cases were headache and hypertension. The tumor invaded the sacral bone. Angiogram helped to localize the tumor and metastases, and allowed preoperative embolization of the tumor in 1 case. The first child underwent incomplete surgical resection, <sup>131</sup>I-MIBG therapy and radiotherapy, and is still alive 2 years after diagnosis. The second child died from metastatic invasion a few weeks after discovery of the tumor. We reviewed previous reports of children with malignant pheochromocytomas (30 cases). Primary tumor was extraadrenal in 50% of cases. The 3-year survival rate was 73 ± 9% (mean ± SD). Apart from surgical resection, no particular treatment appeared to be more effective than others in reducing mortality.

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          Pheochromocytomas, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2, and von Hippel-Lindau disease.

          Pheochromocytoma is a feature of two disorders with an autosomal dominant pattern of inheritance--multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN-2) (with medullary thyroid carcinoma and hyperparathyroidism) and von Hippel-Lindau disease (with angioma of the retina, hemangioblastoma of the central nervous system, renal-cell carcinoma, pancreatic cysts, and epididymal cystadenoma). The frequency of these syndromes in patients with pheochromocytoma is not known. In an unselected group of patients with pheochromocytoma, we performed pentagastrin tests, parathyroid hormone assays, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain, ophthalmoscopy, CT imaging of the abdomen, and ultrasonography of the testes. We also screened members of families with MEN-2 or von Hippel-Lindau disease for pheochromocytoma by measuring plasma and urine catecholamines and plasma chromogranin A and by performing abdominal ultrasonography, CT and MRI, and metaiodobenzylguanidine scintigraphy. Nineteen of 82 unselected patients with pheochromocytomas (23 percent) were carriers of familial disorders; 19 percent had von Hippel-Lindau disease and 4 percent had MEN-2. Prospectively, in 36 of 79 subjects at risk for pheochromocytoma (46 percent), 42 unsuspected pheochromocytomas were found. Overall, there were 130 patients with 185 pheochromocytomas; 43 had von Hippel-Lindau disease, 24 had MEN-2, and 63 had sporadic tumors. The patients with familial and those with sporadic pheochromocytomas differed in mean age at diagnosis (32 vs. 46 years, P < 0.001), multifocal localization (55 vs. 8 percent, P < 0.001), and cancer (0 vs. 11 percent, P = 0.005); but not in the frequency of extraadrenal tumors (24 vs. 16 percent). Thirty-eight percent of carriers of von Hippel-Lindau disease and 24 percent of carriers of MEN-2 had pheochromocytoma as the only manifestation of their syndrome. All patients with pheochromocytomas should be screened for MEN-2 and von Hippel-Lindau disease to avert further morbidity and mortality in the patients and their families. All patients in families with MEN-2 or von Hippel-Lindau disease should be screened for pheochromocytoma, even if they are asymptomatic.

            Author and article information

            Horm Res Paediatr
            Hormone Research in Paediatrics
            S. Karger AG
            September 1999
            02 March 2000
            : 52
            : 3
            : 145-149
            Departments of aPediatric Endocrinology, bRadiology, and cSurgery, Hôpital Saint Vincent de Paul, Paris, and dDepartment of Pediatric Oncology, Institut Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France
            23451 Horm Res 1999;52:145–149
            © 2000 S. Karger AG, Basel

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            Tables: 2, References: 33, Pages: 5
            Case Report


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