Somatostatinomas are rare tumors of the pancreatic cells that secrete the hormone somatostatin. The pancreas is not the only location where somatostatin is produced but larger somatostatinomas are most likely to occur in the pancreas. Since this hormone has a suppressive action on most other hormones, a somatostatinoma tends to present with symptoms associated with the inhibition of these hormones. Somatostatinomas are malignant meaning that it is cancerous but is curable if the tumor can be surgically removed before the cancer has spread to other organs.
Overall somatostatinomas are very rare. It occurs in only about 1 in 40 million people in the United States. The prevalence is equal in both men and women. Somatostatinomas are more frequently detected in the 40 to 60 year age group although some of the conditions it is associated with, like multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 and neurofibromatosis, often start earlier in life. Since somatostatinomas are slow growing tumors, this may account for its diagnosis later in life.