Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome and Peptic Ulcer

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Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome and Peptic Ulcer

Topic Overview

Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is a rare condition in which tumours called gastrinomas form in the pancreas or part of the upper small intestine (duodenum). The tumours secrete large amounts of a hormone called gastrin. Gastrin signals the stomach to produce more acid.

  • At some point during their lives, 90% to 95% of people with Zollinger-Ellison syndrome develop peptic ulcers, usually in the upper small intestine (duodenum).
  • Ulcers that occur in people with this syndrome are often hard to cure but usually can be controlled with a high dose of a proton pump inhibitor.

This syndrome is extremely rare, but it may be considered as a cause when a person has severe or repeated peptic ulcers.

  • Zollinger-Ellison syndrome may occur at any age, but the symptoms are more likely to appear between the ages of 30 and 60.
  • In up to two-thirds of people with this syndrome, the tumours are cancerous (malignant) and may spread to the lymph nodes and liver.

The main treatment for Zollinger-Ellison syndrome is removing the tumours causing the overproduction of acid and taking proton pump inhibitors. If this surgery is successful, you will no longer need to take medicines.

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Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP - Gastroenterology
Last Revised February 25, 2010

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