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Alexander A Leung, Martin D Hyrcza, Janice L Pasieka, and Gregory A Kline

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Alexander A Leung, Janice L Pasieka, Martin D Hyrcza, Danièle Pacaud, Yuan Dong, Jessica M Boyd, Hossein Sadrzadeh, and Gregory A Kline


Despite the significant morbidity and mortality associated with pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma, little is known about their epidemiology. The primary objective was to determine the incidence of pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma in an ethnically diverse population. A secondary objective was to develop and validate algorithms for case detection using laboratory and administrative data.


Population-based cohort study in Alberta, Canada from 2012 to 2019.


Patients with pheochromocytoma or paraganglioma were identified using linked administrative databases and clinical records. Annual incidence rates per 100 000 people were calculated and stratified according to age and sex. Algorithms to identify pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma, based on laboratory and administrative data, were evaluated.


A total of 239 patients with pheochromocytoma or paraganglioma (collectively with 251 tumors) were identified from a population of 5 196 368 people over a period of 7 years. The overall incidence of pheochromocytoma or paraganglioma was 0.66 cases per 100 000 people per year. The frequency of pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma increased with age and was highest in individuals aged 60–79 years (8.85 and 14.68 cases per 100 000 people per year for males and females, respectively). An algorithm based on laboratory data (metanephrine >two-fold or normetanephrine >three-fold higher than the upper limit of normal) closely approximated the true frequency of pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma with an estimated incidence of 0.54 cases per 100 000 people per year.


The incidence of pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma in an unselected population of western Canada was unexpectedly higher than rates reported from other areas of the world.