How Dangerous Is Paraganglioma & Is It Contagious?

Paraganglioma can affect people of any age but mostly comes between the ages of 30 to 50.(1)

How Dangerous Is Paraganglioma?

The severity and the risk belonging to the dangerousness of paraganglioma depends upon various factors. Paraganglioma is usually a benign tumor which does not present commonly till the age of 30 and can show up between 30 to 50 years age group.(2) Paraganglioma is basically of two types depending upon the cell content present in it. It can be of a parasympathetic type which is usually located at the skull base near the foramen Magnum and the cranial nerve number 9 and 10 located near it. It may sometime also be engaging them. Another type is the sympathetic type in which there is a production of proteinaceous hormones known as catecholamines.

These types of paragangliomas are very symptomatic and in about more than 50% of cases, it can produce adrenaline hormone and its related symptoms like flushing of the face, increased blood pressure, palpitations, headache, fine tremors, etc. These can become dangerous and also can be life-threatening if the blood pressure is very high because it can lead to various other complications of high blood pressure like a ruptured intracranial aneurysm, aortic dissection, left ventricular failure, etc.

Some of the paragangliomas can get converted to metastatic tumors which breaks off and goes to different sites in the body. They keep on producing the hormones and also cause of multiple organ dysfunction. The prognosis is very poor when it gets converted to a metastatic transformation. Even after the surgical treatment of such tumors, there are high chances of recurrence and become life-threatening in the end.

Benign paragangliomas are most commonly treated with surgical intervention and have a very favorable prognosis. But in some cases, like in cases of parasympathetic paraganglioma, the tumor is associated with the skull base and can be in close vicinity or encasing various cranial nerves like the glossopharyngeal, vagus, etc. In such cases, the surgery itself becomes a very complicated procedure and can lead to various complications associated with the intraoperative and postoperative period. It has to be done under a neurosurgeon with great precision and accuracy otherwise it can lead to the death of the person intraoperatively. But if the tumor is lying in a non-life-threatening position then it can be operated very easily and the prognosis becomes successful.(3)

Is Paraganglioma Contagious?

Paraganglioma is a tumor formed of abnormal neurons arising from neural crest cells and these are formed due to genetic aberrations, abnormality in the movement of such cells, malignant transformation due to some external causes, etc. There is no known infectious or inflammatory cause responsible for the paraganglioma. It is noncontagious and cannot spread from one person to another via any form or method whatsoever. Many rumors have been spread about its contagious nature but all are false.


Paraganglioma itself is a benign tumor and does not carry a very bad prognosis and has a very rare chance of malignant transformation. But in some cases, the location of paraganglioma becomes very important because it may be difficult to surgically resected the tumor from such a location even if it is benign. In such cases, the prognosis becomes very poor and sometimes surgery has to be ruled out from the option.

It is not contagious as this tumor does not develop from an infected cell-like in other cases where there is the development of Cancer from the virally infected cells because they can also alter the genetic makeup of a cell and force it to produce a tumor.


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