Pheochromocytoma and Paraganglioma: Stages

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 12/2018

ON THIS PAGE: You will learn about how doctors describe a tumor's growth or spread. This is called the stage. Use the menu to see other pages.

Staging is a way of describing where the cancer is located, if or where it has spread, and whether it is affecting other parts of the body.

Doctors use diagnostic tests to find out the cancer’s stage, so staging may not be complete until all of the tests are finished. Knowing the stage helps the doctor to decide what kind of treatment is best, and it can help predict a patient's prognosis, which is the chance of recovery. There are different stage descriptions for different types of cancer.

There is no standard staging system for pheochromocytoma or paraganglioma. The tumors are described as localized, regional, or metastatic:

  • Localized pheochromocytoma. The tumor is detected at an early stage in the adrenal medulla in 1 or both adrenal glands. 

  • Localized paraganglioma. The tumor is detected at an early stage in 1 area of the body only. 

  • Regional pheochromocytoma or paraganglioma. Cancer has spread from where the tumor began to nearby surrounding tissues and/or lymph nodes.

  • Metastatic pheochromocytoma or paraganglioma. Cancer has spread from where the tumor began to a distant part of the body.

Recurrent pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma

Recurrent cancer is cancer that has come back after treatment. If the cancer does return, there will be another round of tests to learn about the extent of the recurrence. These tests and scans are often similar to those done at the time of the original diagnosis.

Information about the tumor’s stage will help the doctor recommend a specific treatment plan. The next section in this guide is Types of Treatment. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.