Adrenal gland & paraganglia
Staging-pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma

Topic Completed: 9 June 2020

Minor changes: 5 May 2021

Copyright: 2017-2021,, Inc.

PubMed search: Staging[TIAB] pheochromocytoma paraganglioma

Debra L. Zynger, M.D.
Page views in 2020: 1,827
Page views in 2021 to date: 809
Cite this page: Zynger D. Staging-pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma. website. Accessed May 15th, 2021.
Definition / general
  • All pheochromocytoma and sympathetic (functional) paraganglioma are covered by this staging system
  • These topics are not covered: parasympathetic (nonfunctional) paraganglioma of the head and neck, adrenal cortical carcinoma, neuroblastic tumors
Essential features
  • AJCC 7th edition staging was sunset on December 31, 2017; as of January 1, 2018, use of the 8th edition is mandatory
ICD coding
  • ICD-O-3:
    • C74.1 - adrenal medulla
    • C75.5 - aortic body and other paraganglioma
Primary tumor (pT)
  • pTX: primary tumor cannot be assessed
  • pT1: pheochromocytoma < 5 cm
  • pT2: pheochromocytoma 5 cm or larger OR sympathetic paraganglioma
  • pT3: invasion into surrounding tissues (including extra-adrenal adipose)

  • Parasympathetic (nonfunctional) paraganglioma, usually arising in the head and neck are typically benign and do not require staging
Regional lymph nodes (pN)
  • pNX: regional lymph nodes cannot be assessed
  • pN0: no regional lymph node metastasis
  • pN1: regional lymph node metastasis

  • Includes aortic and retroperitoneal nodes for abdominal and pelvic tumors
Distant metastasis (pM)
  • pM1a: metastasis to bone
  • pM1b: metastasis to nonregional lymph node, liver or lung
  • pM1c: metastasis to bone and multiple other sites
AJCC prognostic stage groups
  • Stage I: T1 N0 M0
  • Stage II: T2 N0 M0
  • Stage III: T1-2 N1 M0 or T3 N0-1 M0
  • Stage IV: T1-3 N0-1 M1
Registry data collection variables
  • Size (cm)
  • Location
  • Reginal lymph node metastases
  • Location distant metastases
  • 24 hr urinary fractional metanephrines and plasma metanephrines
  • Chromogranin A
  • Mitotic count
  • Germline mutation status
  • Plasma methoxytyramine
Histologic grade (G)
  • There is currently no recommended grading system
Gross images

Contributed by Debra Zynger, M.D.

pT1 pheochromocytoma

pT2 pheochromocytoma

pT2 sympathetic
Microscopic (histologic) images

Contributed by Debra Zynger, M.D.

pT2 sympathetic

pT3 pheochromocytoma
with extra-adrenal
adipose invasion

pT3 pheochromocytoma
with invasion
of the kidney
Board review style question #1
What is the pT classification for a pheochromocytoma that is 3 cm and is confined to the adrenal gland?

  1. pT1
  2. pT2
  3. pT3
  4. pT4
Board review style answer #1
A. pT1. Pheochromocytoma < 5 cm that is confined to the adrenal is pT1.

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Reference: Staging-pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma
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