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Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome

There are many rare conditions and diseases that affect a small population. One of such rare disorders is Zollinger-Ellision syndrome (ZES).

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This disorder affects the gastrointestinal system of patients suffering from tumors. Let us have a look at the Zollinger-Ellison syndrome in the following paragraphs.

What is Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome?

Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is a digestive disorder that is caused by a tumor of the pancreas and the duodenum. The tumor causes the stomach to produce excess gastric acid all the time. This happens as the tumor affects the hormone gastrin, that leads to increase in production of acid.

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What are the Symptoms of Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome?

The symptoms of Zollinger-Ellison syndrome are not always visible. However, when symptoms appear, they are often confused with peptic ulcer symptoms.

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One of specific symptoms of Zollinger-Ellison is chronic diarrhea and esophageal pain. The diarrhea is often experienced after having meals as well as at times between meals. The pain in esophagus arises due to gastroesophageal reflux. This is a condition wherein the gastric acid of the stomach has a backflow into the esophagus, causing burning and irritation.

What Causes Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome?

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Under normal conditions, the cells of the stomach control the production of gastrin. This hormone travels through the bloodstream. It tends to send signals to other cells of the stomach to release gastric acid. This acid helps in digestion of food. When tumors, also called as, gastrinomas cause the G cells to release abnormal amounts of gastrin. In turn, it leads to excess acid production that causes peptic ulcers of the duodenum and stomach.

The exact cause of Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is unknown. Experts think it is due to an inherited disorder, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1). Those who suffer from this disorder have tumors of the pituitary gland, parathyroid gland as well as the pancreas.

Who are More Likely to Develop Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome?

This disorder mostly affects men who are in the age group of 30 to 50 years. Those with MEN1 are 25 to 60% more likely to develop Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.

How is Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome Diagnosed?

A blood test is performed to check the level of gastrin in the bloodstream. Apart from the blood test, the doctor may carry out angiography, endoscopic ultrasonography or computerized tomography (CT) scan.

How is Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome Treated?

This disorder is caused by tumors, that are often treatable. When the tumor is treated, the ulcer caused by Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is cured as well. Thus, the tumor can be removed by surgery or by using chemotherapy.

Apart from surgery, the doctor may prescribe medications for providing relief to the discomfort caused by ulcers. These drugs belong to the proton pump inhibitors group. They help in reducing the secretion of acid in the stomach.

The treatment and complete cure of Zollinger-Ellison syndrome depends on the type of gastrinoma. One should seek medical advise in case they suffer from any symptoms similar to peptic ulcer. Gastrinomas are slow-growing tumors. The survival rate is about 90% when the cancer does not spread to the liver. Thus, make sure you follow-up with your doctor to keep the disorder under control.

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Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: January 07, 2015

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