What is a gastrinoma?
A gastrinoma is a tumor that secretes the hormone gastrin. Normally gastrin is secreted by certain cells in the pancreas, duodenum and stomach. The hormone gastrin stimulates the stomach to produce gastric acid. A gastrinoma secretes large amounts of gastrin. This causes an oversecretion of stomach acid which has a wide range of effects on the stomach itself, and the neighboring regions of the esophagus and small intestine. It gives rise to a condition known as Zollinger-Ellison syndrome (ZES) which is marked by peptic ulcers and excessive gastric acid. Gastrinomas may be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous) with the latter having serious and life threatening implications.