Somatostatinoma is a very rare neuroendocrine tumor that occurs in the pancreas or the gastrointestinal tract and is distinguished by unnecessary discharge of somatostatin hormone by tumor cells of D-cell origin. These tumors hardly arise in other body parts such as lungs, liver, kidneys etc. This disease is seen in one person in every 40 million.
Signs and symptoms of somatostatinomas depend on the location of the tumor. Tumors which arise from the pancreas show symptoms as follows:
If the tumor has been spread to the liver or any nearby lymph nodes, patients may suffer from jaundice and considerable weight loss.
Uncontrolled cell division and duplication of specialized D cells in the pancreas or duodenum is the main cause of somatostatinoma but what triggers the cell division is yet not known. In some patients, it occurs due to genetic reasons. People who have a family history of multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 or neurofibromatosis type 1 are at increased risk of somatostatinoma.
If the doctor suspects that the patient may have somatostatinoma, he advises for a blood test initially to look for high somatostatin hormone levels. If the result is positive then diagnosis of somatostatinomas is done by conducting imaging tests such as CT scan or endoscopy. During endoscopy, a biopsy is simultaneously done to remove sample tissues to be tested under microscope.
Removal of the tumor by surgery is the definitive treatment of somatostatinomas. However if the tumor has been spread to other parts it becomes difficult to carry out the surgery. In these cases, the malignant tissues are made to die by introducing a chemical to the artery that supplies blood to the area of the tumor. This method is called chemo-embolisation.
As the cause of somatostatinoma is not yet known, it is difficult to mention preventive measures of this disease.
Surgical treatment of somatostatinoma is linked with common side effects such as low resistance to infections and bleeding in incision area. Nausea, vomiting, hair loss are the side effects of chemotherapy.