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Dr. Andrew Rynne
Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Article Home Adult and Senior Health Glucagonoma


Glucagonoma is a tumor of the islet cells of the pancreas, which secrete the hormones insulin and glucagon.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

  • The cause is unknown, but genetic factors play a role in some cases.

  • Risk factors include a family history of multiple endocrine neoplasia type I (MEN I).

  • Glucagonoma is usually malignant (cancerous).

  • The cancer tends to spread and get worse.

  • The cancer affects the islet cells of the pancreas.

  • As a result, they produce too much of a hormone called glucagon.

  • The excess glucagon causes symptoms such as glucose intolerance and hyperglycemia (elevated blood sugar).

  • Glucagonoma also cause a distinctive skin lesion called necrolytic migratory erythema.



  • Diarrhoea
  • Skin rash that migrates on face, abdomen, perineum, buttocks, or lower extremities

                    o May be crusty or scaly
                    o May be raised lesions filled with clear fluid or pus

  • Inflamed mouth and tongue
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Increased appetite
  • Excess thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Nocturnal (nighttime) urination
  • Increased appetite


Signs and tests:

 Signs include:

  • Glucose intolerance
  • High blood sugar (hyperglycemia)


  • Higher than normal serum glucagon level
  • Pancreatic tumor revealed by CT scan
  • Higher than normal fasting glucose level
  • Abnormal glucose tolerance test



  •  Surgical removal of the tumor is the preferred treatment. The tumor does not respond to chemotherapy.


  • Approximately 60% of these tumors are cancerous.
  • If the tumor is only in the pancreas and surgery to remove it is successful,  patients have a 5-year survival rate of 85%.


  • Metastasis of cancer to the liver is a complication.

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