Unusual Long Survival with a Giant Invasive Pheochromocytoma of an Incompatible Patient
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Pheochromocytomas (PHEOs) are rare neuroendocrine tumors and about 2-13% of PHEOs are malignant. Predicting malignancy in PHEO cases with invasion but without metastasis is still controversial in the literature. This study presents an unusual long survival with a giant invasive PHEO in an incompatible patient and a review of the literature. In 1989, a 23-year-old female patient was operated for a giant adrenal mass with a pathological final diagnosis of PHEO. Information to the patient's family was provided about the short life span of the patient in the postoperative period because the tumor could not be totally resected. The patient started using regular antihypertensive drugs only after 1994. In 1994, 3700 mBq 131-I-metaiodobenzylguanidine (MIBG) treatment was given. Since then, no specific treatment was administered for PHEO due to patient incompatibility. She was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus at the age of 40 years and had a cerebrovascular accident due to hypertension at the age of 42. New abdominal computed tomography (CT) showed a right-sided 75 x 37 mm irregular and heterogeneous mass lesion extending inferiorly from the diaphragmatic crus level located in the right adrenal locus compatible with local recurrence. There was no I-123-MIBG uptake. She refused to have advanced workup and further treatment options. Malignant PHEOs reduce overall survival as a consequence of excessive catecholamine release, large tumor burden, and malignancy-related complications. Currently, the treatment of a malignant PHEO still has difficulties for both patients and doctors. Main treatment options for malignant PHEOs are primarily surgical excision. The effect of radionuclide therapy on survival time still remains to be determined. Efforts should be made to identify clinical, biochemical, and pathological criteria for malignancy and to develop new therapies in these patients with malignancy. The clinical course of malignant PHEOs is remarkably variable. Disease-specific survival rate changes from 58 to 88.1% at five years in the literature. Recent discoveries have enhanced new options for treatment, from radionuclide therapy and targeted molecular therapy to immunotherapy. A multidisciplinary approach is needed to individualize treatment in patients with malignant and invasive PHEO.