A carotid body tumor
, also known as a chemodectoma or paraganglioma, is a tumor found in the upper neck where the two cartoid arteries branch off. There are three types of CBT's, sporadic, familial and hyperplastic. Sporadic CBTs are most common representing roughly 85% of all CBT cases. Familial CBTs are more common in younger children, and hyperplastic CBTs are typically found in people living in high altitude environments, such as New Mexico or Colorado. Carotid body tumors can be found in children, but the average age of onset is 45 years old. CBTs do not usually initially present with any symptoms other than being a physical mass on the neck. As the tumor grows and pushes against the carotid artery and surrounding nerves, other symptoms may occur, such as pain, a weak tongue or less ability to move the tongue, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, and Horner syndrome (for more information see Horner syndrome.
). Although most carotid body tumors are not fatal, some can be locally aggressive, so it is recommended that they are removed. Surgical removal of the tumor is sometimes followed by radiation therapy. Treatment for carotid body tumors is generally very safe, and outcomes are typically very successful.