ZOLLINGER-ELLISON SYNDROME

Zollinger-Ellison syndrome (ZES) is a disease of the gastrointestinal system. Those with ZES develop tumors known as gastrinomas in the pancreas and duodenum (the first section of the small intestine), which secrete the hormone gastrin. Gastrin creates excessive stomach acid, thereby predisposing those with ZES to develop stomach and duodenal ulcers.

Usually asymptomatic but symptoms do occur and may include:

  • Burning pain in the abdomen
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Bleeding from the stomach
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue

Blood tests may be taken to look for high levels of gastrin. Tests to measure your stomach acid may be done.

Your doctor may examine you for ulcers by performing an endoscopy.

A CAT scan, may also be performed

Despite these tests, gastrinomas can be difficult to find.

ZES is treated by stomach acied reduction usually via proton pump inhibitors. These drugs, which include lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec, Zegerid), pantoprazole (Protonix), dexlansoprazole (Dexilant ), esomeprazole (Nexium), and rabeprazole (Aciphex), curb the production of stomach acid and allow the ulcers to heal.

H2-blockers, such as cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepcid), and ranitidine (Zantac) may also be prescribed. However, these drugs don’t work as well to reduce stomach acid.

Surgery for the peptic ulcer or to remove the gastrinoma may be needed in some cases. Up to 50% of patients who have surgery can be cured. For malignant tumors, radiation and chemotherapy may be offered.

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