Objectives: To estimate the incidence of pheochromocytoma in the population of South Galicia (Spain) during the period 1980-1992.
Design: A prospective study.
Setting: The General Hospital of Vigo, a tertiary referral centre.
Subjects: New cases of pheochromocytoma diagnosed in the population during the years 1980-1992. The average population size was 523,934 inhabitants, (52% female, 48% male).
Main outcome measures: All data were obtained from the Medical Registry, which ensures virtually complete case ascertainment for diagnosed pheochromocytoma in the population. All cases were histologically confirmed. The average annual incidence rate of pheochromocytoma was calculated.
Results: For the study period, 14 new cases (eight female and six male) of pheochromocytoma were diagnosed in the population of South Galicia. The average annual incidence rate in the population was 2.06 (range 0.0-3.93) per million. This incidence rate was significantly higher in the female population (2.26 vs. 1.84; P < 0.05). The mean age at diagnosis was 43 +/- 12 (range 21-65) years. Thirteen of the 14 cases were diagnosed in living patients (two discovered incidentally at operation) and one case was diagnosed at autopsy. One pheochromocytoma was located outside the adrenals. All but one tumour were benign. One patient had pheochromocytoma as part of the multiple endocrine neoplasia type IIa, and in four patients it was associated with neurofibromatosis (28.57%). Four of the 13 patients surgically treated had residual hypertension.
Conclusions: The incidence of pheochromocytoma in our population is similar to that reported from other European countries. Routine screening for this disease is not recommended, but postoperative follow-up of the patients is needed. A wider study is necessary to confirm the high association with neurofibromatosis in our population.