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Definition Return to top
Glucagonoma is a very rare tumor of the islet cells of the pancreas, which release the hormones insulin and glucagon.
Causes Return to top
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, they produce too much of the hormone glucagon.
The cause is unknown, but genetic factors play a role in some cases. A family history of multiple endocrine neoplasia type I (MEN I) is a risk factor.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
Most of the time the cancer has already spread to the liver when it is diagnosed.
Tests may include:
Treatment Return to top
Surgery to remove the tumor is the preferred treatment. The tumor does not respond to chemotherapy.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Approximately 60% of these tumors are cancerous. Spread to the liver is common.
If the tumor is only in the pancreas and surgery to remove it is successful, patients have a 5-year survival rate of 85%.
Possible Complications Return to top
The cancer can spread to the liver.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if you notice symptoms of glucagonoma.
References Return to top
Simon P, Spilcke-Liss E, Wallaschofski H. Endocrine tumors of the pancreas. Endocrinol Metabl Clin North Am. 2006;35:431-437.Update Date: 9/4/2008 Updated by: Sean O. Stitham, MD, private practice in Internal Medicine, Seattle, Washington; and James R. Mason, MD, Oncologist, Director, Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program and Stem Cell Processing Lab, Scripps Clinic, Torrey Pines, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.