Wednesday 6 February 2013
adrenal malignant paraganglioma
Malignant pheochromocytomas/paragangliomas are rare tumors with a poor prognosis. Malignancy is diagnosed by the development of metastases as evidenced by recurrences in sites normally devoid of chromaffin tissue.
Histopathological, biochemical, molecular and genetic markers offer only information on potential risk of metastatic spread. Large size, extraadrenal location, dopamine secretion,
SDHB mutations, a PASS score higher than 6, a high Ki-67 index are indexes for potential malignancy.
Metastases can be present at first diagnosis or occur years after primary surgery. Measurement of plasma and/or urinary metanephrine, normetanephrine and metoxytyramine are recommended for biochemical diagnosis. Anatomical and functional imaging using different radionuclides are necessary for localization of tumor and metastases.
Metastatic pheochromocytomas/paragangliomas is incurable.
When possible, surgical debulking of primary tumor is recommended as well as surgical or radiosurgical removal of metastases. I-131-MIBG radiotherapy is the treatment of choice although results are limited.
Chemotherapy is reserved to more advanced disease stages. Recent genetic studies have highlighted the main pathways involved in pheochromocytomas/paragangliomas pathogenesis thus suggesting the use of targeted therapy which, nevertheless, has still to be validated.