Open Access Research article

Pheochromocytoma of the urinary bladder: a systematic review of the contemporary literature

Jonathan A Beilan12, Adrienne Lawton3, Julio Hajdenberg4 and Charles J Rosser12*

Author Affiliations

1 Section of Urologic Oncology, MD Anderson Cancer Center Orlando, 1400 S. Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32806, USA

2 College of Medicine, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL 32827, USA

3 Department of Pathology, Orlando Health/MD Anderson Cancer Center Orlando, Orlando, FL 32806, USA

4 Section of Genitourinary Oncology, MD Anderson Cancer Center Orlando, Orlando, FL 32806, USA

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BMC Urology 2013, 13:22  doi:10.1186/1471-2490-13-22

Published: 29 April 2013



Pheochromocytoma (paraganglioma) of the urinary bladder is a rare tumor. Herein we sought to review the contemporary literature on pheochromocytomas of the urinary bladder in order to further illustrate the presentation, treatment options and outcomes of patients diagnosed with these tumors.


A comprehensive review of the current literature was conducted according to the PRISMA guidelines by accessing the NCBI PubMed database and using the search terms “paraganglioma, pheochromocytoma, bladder.” This search resulted in the identification of 186 articles published between January 1980 and April 2012 of which 80 articles were ultimately included in our analysis.


Pheochromocytomas usually occurred in young adult Caucasians (mean age, 43.3 years; range,11–84 years). According to the literature, the most common symptoms and signs of pheochromocytomas of the urinary bladder were hypertension, headache, and hematuria. Of the 77 cases that commented on catecholamine production, 65 patients had biochemically functional tumors. Approximately 20% of patients were treated by transurethral resection alone, 70% by partial cystectomy and 10% by radical cystectomy. The 75 patients with follow-up information had a mean follow-up of 35 months. At the time of last follow-up, 15 (14.2%) had disease recurrence, 10 (9.4%) had metastasis, and 65 (61.3%) were alive.


Pheochromocytomas of the urinary bladder tend to be functional and occur mostly in young adult Caucasians. Patients with localized tumors have an extremely favorable prognosis and may be managed by less aggressive modalities, whereas patients with metastatic disease have a significant reduction in survival rates despite aggressive treatment.

Paraganglioma; Pheochromocytoma; Bladder; Treatment; Diagnosis; Prognosis