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Gastrinoma


Overview :

Gastrinomas are an integral part of the Zollinger-Ellison syndrome (ZES). In fact, ZES is also known as gastrinoma. This syndrome consists of ulcer disease in the upper gastrointestinal tract, marked increases in the secretion of gastric acid in the stomach, and tumors of the islet cells in the pancreas. The tumors produce large amounts of gastrin that are responsible for the characteristics of Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, namely severe ulcer disease. Although usually located within the pancreas, they may occur in other organs.

Gastrinomas may occur randomly and sporadically, or they may be inherited as part of a genetic condition called multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN-1) syndrome. About half of persons with MEN-1 have gastrinomas, which tend to be more numerous and smaller than tumors in sporadic cases.

About half of ZES patients have multiple gastrinomas, which can vary in size from 1-20 mm. Gastrinomas found in the pancreas are usually much larger than duodenal gastrinomas. About two thirds of gastrinomas are malignant (cancerous). These usually grow slowly, but some may invade surrounding sites rapidly and metastasize (spread) widely. Sometimes, gastrinomas are found only in the lymph nodes, and it is uncertain whether these malignancies have originated in the lymph nodes or have metastasized from a tumor not visible in the pancreas or duodenum.

There is some evidence that the more malignant form of gastrinomas is more frequent in larger pancreatic tumors, especially in females and in persons with a shorter disease symptom duration and higher serum gastrin levels.




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