Phaeochromocytoma is a rare tumor with an incidence of two to eight cases per million people per year (1). In defiance of its obscure nature, an average of 261 articles per year over the past 30 years has been published in the international biomedical literature on phaeochromocytoma (MEDLINE, National Library of Medicine). One could argue that too much research and printed word have been devoted to such a rare tumor. This heightened medical interest is fueled by the fact that when correctly diagnosed and properly treated, phaeochromocytoma is curable; however, when it is undiagnosed or improperly treated, it can be fatal.
It began in 1926—César Roux in Switzerland and Charles H Mayo in the United States successfully removed phaeochromocytomas to cure the symptom complex caused by tumor-dependent catecholamine excess (2). A biochemical assessment of catecholamine hypersecretion was not possible in 1926. The diagnostic approach has progressed from these clinical impressions