Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome

What is Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome?

Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome (ZES) is a rare condition caused by a tumor on the pancreas. This tumor is referred to as a gastrinoma. It overproduces gastrin, a hormone responsible for controlling the production of acid in the stomach; as a result, the stomach produces too much acid. The extra acid leads to peptic ulcers in the stomach and small intestine and can also cause diarrhea, penic and vomiting, weight loss, reddened skin around the eyes, weakness, and fatigue.

Symptoms of Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome

  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Early feeling of fullness
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Ulcers in the small intestine
  • Bloody stools
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness

Causes of Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome

Most cases of Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome are caused by a tumor called a gastrinoma. The tumor overproduces gastrin, which then signals the stomach to produce too much acid. Gastrinomas can be located in the pancreas, duodenum, or in the area surrounding the pancreas. In some cases, ZES is caused by the presence of multiple gastrinomas or other tumors that cause the overproduction of gastrin.

Treatments for Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome

  • Medications: Proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole reduce the amount of stomach acid produced, thus relieving symptoms.
  • Surgery: Surgery may be used to remove the gastrinoma or tumors if they can be located.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy may be used to stop the growth of the tumor, though this is not a cure for ZES.