Can You Die From Paraganglioma & How Do You Stop It From Spreading?

Head and neck paragangliomas are parasympathetic that mostly occur at the carotid bifurcation but also along the vagal nerve and in the temporal bone.(1)

Can You Die From Paraganglioma?

It is a neuronal cell tumor that occurs in response to genetic aberrations and mutations occurring during the embryogenesis within the totipotent cells of the embryo. there can be the formation of such abnormal cells but it may grow later on to present in the middle phase of life.

Paraganglioma itself is not a dangerous condition because it is limited to one site only and there is not much of spread occurring in it. But it usually is located on crucial sites where it starts producing symptoms like carotid artery bifurcation, skull base, etc. So, whenever it’s starts producing symptoms it is very much necessary to resect the tumor and that is why surgical treatment is the first-line treatment for any paraganglioma.

But in rare cases, there may be malignant transformation occurring leading to multiple tumor formation in the body and surgical treatment may not be sufficient to resect all tumors and completely cure the disease. In such cases, the prognosis becomes poor, and the patient and die of the condition.

Surgery for a paraganglioma is very dangerous and can lead to death in various cases. According to a report published in the US, surgery of a carotid body tumor in about 4000 cases resulted in 2 % of mortality killing about a hundred people. When the surgery for the same condition was also associated with the removal of a part of the carotid artery also known endarterectomy then the mortality increased from 2 % to 8.5 %(2) So, it is very much possible that a patient can die on the operation table even when the condition has such a successful cure rate and treatment.

How Do You Stop Paragangliomas From Spreading?

Usually, a paraganglioma does not spread either locally or metastatically but is it gets converted to malignant form, and then it can start spreading to various parts of the body. In such cases, surgical treatment is not the treatment of choice but the combination of various drugs can be started to reduce the chances of spread and cure the tumor.

Only a few of the drugs are known to be effective against a spreading paraganglioma and can control it to some extent. The pharmacological combination therapy given in paraganglioma consists of three drugs mainly, cyclophosphamide, vincristine, and dacarbazine.(3) Many cases have been regressed by this combination of drugs and are especially effective in pheochromocytoma which is a paraganglioma of the adrenal gland. Another drug that is effective in such cases that are resistant to this triple therapy is known as temozolomide. But it is to be used very carefully and only in resistant cases of pheochromocytoma.

Conclusion

Yes, there is a cancel that a patient who is suffering from any kind of paraganglioma can also die from that condition. Although being a very benign disease, it is very much treatable but due to its crucial locations, it becomes very important to carefully resect the tumor and complete the surgery successfully. Because in many cases it has been seen that patient has died upon the operating table because of additional effects and risks borne by all the surgeries.

Malignant transformation of paraganglioma has also to be controlled because it can lead to the production of a variety of hormones in the body and also increases the risk of death from the malignancy if left untreated. Once the tumor has turned malignant, the choice of treatment becomes pharmacological instead of surgical.

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