Zollinger-Ellison syndrome

Zollinger-Ellison syndrome

What is Zollinger-Ellison syndrome?

Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is a rare condition that causes tumours to develop in the pancreas. These tumours are cancerous in half of all cases, and they secrete a hormone called gastrin that provokes the stomach into over-producing gastric acid. This excess stomach acid causes stomach and duodenal ulcers.

The syndrome most often affects people aged between 30-60, and its cause is not known. Some researchers believe that it is genetic, and is caused by a tumour-suppressing gene that is absent or abnormal. It can be a very uncomfortable digestive disease, affecting the stomach and intestine with ulcers and the pancreas with potentially cancerous tumours. It presents a range of unpleasant symptoms, including:

How is Zollinger-Ellison syndrome treated?

If the pancreatic tumours are cancerous they will require treatment which may involve open surgery to remove. Stomach and duodenal ulcers are now treated with a combination of drugs, about which your GP can advise you. In very severe cases of Zollinger-Ellison syndrome, the entire stomach may have to be surgically removed. This treatment is also the only way to guarantee that there will be no relapse.

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