The available data on the natural history of pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas after radical surgery are heterogeneous and discordant. The aim of our retrospective multicenter study was to find predictors of recurrence in patients with pheochromocytomas and sympathetic paragangliomas submitted to radical surgery in Piedmont (a region in northwest Italy). We collected data from 242 patients diagnosed between 1990 and 2016. Forty-two patients (17.4%) had disease recurrence. Multivariate analysis showed that genetic mutation (HR = 3.62; 95% CI 1.44-9.13; p = 0.006), younger age (HR = 0.97; 95% CI 0.95-0.99; p = 0.031) and larger tumor size (HR = 1.01; 95% CI 1.00-1.02; p = 0.015) were independently associated with a higher recurrence risk of pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma; in pheochromocytomas, genetic mutation (HR = 3.4; 95% CI 1.00-11.48; p = 0.049), younger age (HR = 0.97; 95% CI 0.94-0.99; p = 0.02), higher tumor size (HR = 1.01; 95% CI 1.00-1.03; p = 0.043) and PASS value (HR = 1.16; 95% CI 1.03-1.3; p = 0.011) were associated with recurrence. Moreover, tumor size was the only predictor of metastatic pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma (HR = 4.6; 95% CI 1.4-15.0; p = 0.012); tumor size (HR = 3.93; 95% CI 1.2-16.4; p = 0.026) and PASS value (HR = 1.27; 95% CI 1.06-1.53; p = 0.007) were predictors of metastatic pheochromocytoma. In conclusion, our findings suggest that the recurrence of pheochromocytoma and sympathetic paraganglioma develops more frequently in younger subjects, patients with a family history of chromaffin tissue neoplasms, mutations in susceptibility genes, larger tumors and higher values of PASS. We recommend genetic testing in all patients with PPGL and strict follow-up at least on an annual basis.
Keywords: Chromaffin system; Endocrine hypertension; Genetic testing; Paraganglioma; Pheochromocytoma.