MEN syndrome is a rare and inherited disorder that causes the endocrine glands to develop tumors. These pituitary tumors can be benign or cancerous. Other cases of the syndrome find no trace of tumors but, instead, the endocrine glands grow excessively. The condition has been diagnosed in infants as well as the elderly. The symptoms vary in the type of MEN, as well as which glands are impacted.
MEN syndromes occur in three different types, including type 1, 2A, and 2B.
Type 1 involves the development of tumors or excessive growth and activity of two or more endocrine glands. The patient may suffer from pituitary tumors, parathyroid tumors, pancreas tumors, and/or tumors on the adrenal gland. With type 1 MEN, most patients have tumors on their parathyroid glands and, most often, the tumors are benign. However, the tumors cause the glands to produce excessive amounts of parathyroid hormone. This can cause excessive levels of calcium in the blood, which can lead to kidney stones. The tumors can also cause other health issues, including peptic ulcers, hypoglycemia, menstrual abnormalities, and high levels of corticosteroid hormones.
Type 2A MEN is indicated by tumors or excessive growth of the thyroid, adrenal, and/or thyroid glands. Those with type 2A MEN are likely to develop medullary thyroid cancer. Patients may also suffer from cutaneous lichen amyloidosis and Hirschsprung’s disease. Those with tumors on the adrenal glands are also likely to have high blood pressure and increased calcium in the blood.
Type 2B MEN may consist of neuromas, medullary thyroid cancer, and/or Pheochromocytomas. Type 2B MEN is caused by a genetic mutation and typically develops at an early age. With this condition, thyroid tumors grow much faster and spread more rapidly.
Patients are also likely to have glistening bumps in their mucous membranes—namely, the tongue, lips, lining of the mouth, and on the eyelids. The condition has been linked to digestive tract issues, as well as spinal abnormalities.
There are several tests that can be used to diagnose MEN. Common options include genetic tests, hormone tests via urine and blood, as well as certain imaging tests. Each test is used to identify any genetic abnormalities, especially mutations in the RET that are known to cause MEN. If a member of your family suffers from MEN, be sure to get tested, as this condition is often hereditary.
Since there is no known cure for MEN, treatment options include tumor removal and, sometimes, removal of the thyroid gland. Doctors often prescribe medications to correct hormonal imbalances caused by overactive endocrine glands.
Surgery Group LA specializes in endocrine surgery. If you’ve been diagnosed with MEN, don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss treatment options. Call our office at 310.289.1518 to discuss your surgical needs and comprehensive care.
More importantly, our team of world-renowned surgeons have saved countless lives, and have enabled countless more to live healthy, happy lives.