Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is a rare disorder that arises from tumors and causes ulcers in the digestive system. One or more tumors form in the pancreas or duodenum (the upper part of the small intestine). Not only can these tumors lead to ulcers, they can also be cancerous, and spread to the nearby lymph nodes or liver.
About one-quarter of people with Zollinger-Ellison syndrome have a genetic disorder called multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN 1). People with MEN 1 may have additional endocrine tumors in the brain and neck.
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Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is caused by gastrin-producing tumors, called gastrinomas. Gastrin is a hormone that stimulates the stomach to produce acid. Excess acid production may lead to ulcers in the stomach or duodenum.
Factors that increase your chance of getting Zollinger-Ellison syndrome include:
In many people, Zollinger-Ellison syndrome causes symptoms similar to an ulcer or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Symptoms may include:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests may include:
Imaging tests may help your doctor to detect and localize the tumors. These tests may include:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:
Surgical removal of the gastrin-secreting tumors may be attempted. This may not be possible though if there are multiple tumors, or if cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body.
Zollinger-Ellison syndrome may be treated with:
Last reviewed August 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.