An abnormal cell growth known as a paraganglioma develops from a certain type of nerve cell that is present throughout the body. Chromaffin cells, a particular type of nerve cell, have critical roles in the body, including controlling blood pressure.

Chromaffin cells can develop growths (tumors) when they become abnormal. Pheochromocytomas is a tumor that originate from the adrenal gland chromaffin cell. The tumors are known as paragangliomas when they develop elsewhere in the body.

Typically, paragangliomas are noncancerous. However, some paragangliomas have the potential to migrate (metastasize) to other body regions and develop into cancer.

Paraganglioma is rare and can happen at any age, adults between the ages of 30 and 50 are the most to being diagnosed. The majority of paragangliomas are unknown in origin, however some are brought on by heritable gene alterations from one generation to the next.

Surgery to remove the tumor is the most common form of treatment for paragangliomas. Additional therapies might be taken into consideration if the paraganglioma is malignant or if it spreads to other parts of the body.


Adrenaline, the hormone responsible for the fight-or-flight response, is one of the catecholamines that are frequently secreted by paraganglioma cells causing episodes of:

  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Excessive sweating
  • Headaches
  • Tremors