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Thoracic spine metastasis presenting 18 years after complete resection of a phaeochromocytoma


Phaeochromocytomas are rare neuroendocrine tumours (NET) with malignant behaviour in about 10% of cases. The median time from the diagnosis of primary tumour and bone metastasis is 3.4 years. We report a case of a 66-year-old woman presenting with a hypertensive crisis and back pain. She has a history of a phaeochromocytoma completely resected 18 years before. MRI showed a neoplastic mass on the 10th thoracic vertebra (T10), with fracture and spinal cord compression. The CT-guided biopsy was consistent with metastasis of a NET. Therefore, she was treated with phenoxybenzamine and external beam radiotherapy. However, clinical (dorsal pain) and biochemical (ie, elevated chromogranin A) signs suggested persistent disease and the patient was treated with iodine-131 metaiodobenzylguanidine and T10 kyphoplasty. After 8 years, she remains clinically stable. This case demonstrates that phaeochromocytomas may reveal malignant behaviour several years after diagnosis, and therefore patients should be maintained under long term surveillance.

  • neuroendocrinology
  • surgical oncology
  • endocrine cancer
  • spinal cord
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