Pheochromocytoma, as defined by Wilkins and his co-workers1 in a recent communication, is a tumor resulting from the abnormal proliferation of pheochromocytes, or mature cells of the endocrine series that arise from the primitive sympathogonia and normally form the endocrine portion of the adrenal medulla. These tumors may occur wherever there is chromaffin tissue but usually are observed in the adrenal medulla or in other retroperitoneal locations, such as the aortic chromaffin bodies of Zuckerhandl. Pheochromocytomas are usually localized benign tumors, although occasionally they may undergo malignant transformation. Their most interesting characteristic, these authors point out, is the production of excessive hormonal secretions. Their clinical manifestations, therefore, are such that the patient frequently is thought to be suffering from a metabolic disease such as thyrotoxicosis or diabetes mellitus.
The incidence of pheochromocytoma is probably greater than has been supposed. Although to date only 200 cases were reported in the
PHEOCHROMOCYTOMA. JAMA. 1950;144(5):396–397. doi:10.1001/jama.1950.02920050036013