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Is Paraganglioma A Progressive Disease & Alternative Treatments For It?

Paraganglioma is a rare and benign type of tumor, which develops from paraganglioma cells. These tumors originate from embryonic nervous tissues covering the outer part of the head and the skull. However, a few of the Paraganglioma tumors are present in nerves, blood vessels, and near adrenal glands. (1)

Paraganglioma tumors are simple ones, while they have an association with various other neurological tumors, which develop in the embryo region, like neurocristopathic and chemodectomas tumors. (2)

Paraganglioma in some of the cases does not develop any symptoms. However, when symptoms occur, the most common one is hypertension or high blood pressure. In this case, high blood pressure of a person is of sustained type i.e. go and come. (3)

Is Paraganglioma A Progressive Disease?

Paraganglioma is a progressive disease because it spreads to other parts. Paraganglioma type of cancer spreads to other body parts and doctors refer to the procedure as metastasis. Cancer cells further break away from the place they start i.e. the primary tumor and pass through the blood or lymph system. Accordingly-

  1. Blood: Cancer due to Paraganglioma enters the blood, travels from the blood vessels, and forms a metastatic tumor in any other body part.
  2. Lymph System: Paraganglioma enters the lymph system and forms a metastatic tumor by passing from lymph vessels in almost every other body part.

The metastatic type of tumor is almost similar to the primary tumor to cause cancer. For instance, if Paraganglioma spreads from the skull to other bones, the cancer cells become paraganglioma cells. In this situation, doctors refer to the disease as metastatic paraganglioma instead of skull or bone cancer. (4)

Alternative Treatments For Paraganglioma

Surgery to remove the tumor is the most preferable treatment to cure the problem of Paraganglioma. However, along with surgery, doctors recommend a few of the additional or alternative treatments to deal with the problem.

Medications To Control Hormone Levels: When a patient diagnoses with Paraganglioma, doctors prescribe certain medications to control the blood pressure and hormones. These treatments are usually recommendable for a few days or weeks before surgery. If the tumor produces catecholamines, doctors prescribe medicines to control the respective symptoms responsible for the production.

Particularly, patients have to intake a combination of hormone-blocking medicines both during and before their treatments to release the dangerous levels of catecholamines. You have to continue with the respective type of drug therapy if the symptoms related to catecholamine continue to take place.

Chemotherapy Treatment: Chemotherapy for paraganglioma involves the application of drugs for destroying tumor cells. This therapy ends the ability of tumor cells to grow as well as to divide. This treatment is recommendable for patients suffering from a fast-growing and metastatic type of paraganglioma. Chemotherapy is a type of supportive care for relieving symptoms, like pain caused by cancer, which spread to other bones and body areas. A chemotherapy schedule or regimen often consists of certain numbers of cycles given for a certain period. A patient may get only one drug at one time or receive a combination of several drugs simultaneously.

Radiotherapy Treatment: Radiation therapy for Paraganglioma uses high energy of X-ray and other similar particles for destroying the cancer cells. Radiation oncologists are responsible to give radiation therapy and it is recommendable if Paraganglioma spreads to different body parts. External beam radiation therapy is the most preferable radiation treatment given to patients from any machine outside of their bodies.

Whenever radiation treatment involves using implants, oncologists call it brachytherapy or internal radiation therapy. The schedule or regimen of radiation therapy consists of specific numbers of treatments given for a particular period.

PRRT i.e. Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy: In the case of PRRT for Paraganglioma, radioactive drugs bind to specific cell receptors, which remain present on specific tumors. After binding to a cell receptor, the drug enters the affected cell to cause damage. FDA approved iobenguane radiotherapy drug to treat Paraganglioma, which is unable to remove surgically and spreads beyond the actual site of the tumor. This type of systemic treatment reduces many cardiovascular side effects associated with Paraganglioma tumors and reduces its actual size. In some cases, oncologists call this treatment as MIBG therapy. However, before using the therapy, doctors recommend a test to detect whether the treatment can give a positive result or not. (5)


To conclude, we should say that Paraganglioma disease is a progressive one and its main treatment is surgery to remove the affected tumor. However, doctors recommend alternative treatments or therapies to help patients to achieve recovery at a faster rate.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 3, 2020

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