What is insulinoma?
An insulinoma is a small tumor that forms in the pancreas that creates an excess of insulin. In most cases, these tumors are not cancerous; however, it is not impossible.
What are the symptoms of insulinoma?
Symptoms do not always appear, and when they are apparent, they vary based on severity. Mild symptoms include:
- Double or blurred vision
- Anxiety and/or irritability
- Mood swings
- Sudden weight gain
In more severe cases, there are additional symptoms, such as seizures, convulsions, comas, loss of consciousness, a rapid heart rate, and difficulty concentrating. If the tumor spreads, affected individuals experience jaundice, back pain, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
What causes insulinoma?
Doctors are unsure as to why these tumors form. They typically grow without warning. Females are affected more than males, and it is the most common in those in their 40’s to 60’s.
How is insulinoma diagnosed?
Doctors will first perform a physical exam and ask about the characteristic symptoms. The next step is to perform a blood test to look for high insulin levels paired with low blood sugar levels. An MRI, CT scan, or endoscopic ultrasound can help with diagnosis as well.
What are the treatments for insulinoma?
Surgery to remove the tumor is often the best treatment option. At times, it may be necessary to remove part of the pancreas as well. If the tumor is cancerous, doctors will utilize chemotherapy, radiofrequency ablation, and cryotherapy. Blood sugar medications may also be necessary.