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Treatment of pheochromocytoma involves surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Surgery: Once a diagnosis of pheochromocytoma has been established and the tumor located, the tumor will be surgically removed. One or both adrenal glands may be removed in an operation called adrenalectomy. Your doctor will examine the inside of the abdomen to make sure all the cancer is removed. If the cancer has spread, lymph nodes or other tissues also may be taken out.

Chemotherapy: This therapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. It may be taken orally in pill form or may be administered intravenously, through an IV. Chemotherapy is called a systemic treatment because the drug enters the bloodstream, travels through the body and can kill cancer cells throughout the body.

Radiation Therapy: This treatment uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Since radiation comes from a machine outside the body, it is called external radiation therapy.

Radioisotope Therapy: This treatment uses high doses of I-MIBG, which cancerous pheochromocytomas may absorb, resulting in shrinkage or even disappearance of the tumors.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

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