Causes of Glucagonoma
Glucagonoma is usually cancerous (malignant). The cancer tends to spread and get worse.
This cancer affects the islet cells of the pancreas. As a result, the islet cells produce too much of the hormone glucagon.
The cause is unknown. Genetic factors play a role in some cases. A family history of the syndrome multiple endocrine neoplasia type I (MEN I) is a risk factor.
Symptoms of glucagonoma may include any of the following:
- Glucose intolerance (body has problem breaking down sugars)
- High blood sugar (hyperglycemia)
- Excessive thirst (due to high blood sugar)
- Frequent urination (due to high blood sugar)
- Increased appetite
- Inflamed mouth and tongue
- Nighttime (nocturnal) urination
- Skin rash on face, abdomen, buttocks, or feet that comes and goes, and moves around
- Weight loss
In most cases, the cancer has already spread to the liver when it is diagnosed.
Tests and Exams
Tests that may be done include:
Treatment of Glucagonoma
Surgery to remove the tumor is usually recommended. The tumor does not usually respond to chemotherapy.
Approximately 60% of these tumors are cancerous. It is common for this cancer to spread to the liver. Only about 20% of people can be cured with surgery.
If the tumor is only in the pancreas and surgery to remove it is successful, people have a 5-year survival rate of 85%.
The cancer can spread to the liver. High blood sugar level can cause problems with metabolism and tissue damage.
When to Contact a Health Professional
Call your health care provider if you notice symptoms of glucagonoma.
Jensen RT, Norton JA. Endocrine tumors of the pancreas and gastrointestinal tract. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 32.
National Cancer Institute: PDQ Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (islet cell tumors) treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Date last modified March 7, 2014. Available at: www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/isletcell/HealthProfessional/page8. Accessed February 27, 2015.
|Review Date: 11/26/2014
Reviewed By: Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.