Health news
Health news top Health news

   Login  |  Register    
Health News Make AMN Your Home PageDiscussion BoardsAdvanced Search ToolMedical RSS/XML News FeedHealth news
  You are here : > Health Centers > Medical Encyclopedia


VMar 30 05

Alternative names
Vasoactive intestinal peptide-producing tumor; Pancreatic endocrine tumor

VIPomas are exceedingly rare cancerous tumors that arise from a type of hormone-secreting cell in the pancreas. VIPomas cause diarrhea, hypokalemia (low blood potassium), and a decrease in the amount of acid in the stomach.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

VIPomas affect cells in the pancreas that produce vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP). The cancer causes symptoms by producing high levels of this hormone. The cause is not known.

VIPomas are usually diagnosed in adulthood, most commonly at age 50 or so. Women are more likely to be affected than men.


  • Watery diarrhea (often massive amounts)  
  • Hypokalemia (low blood potassium), which can cause leg cramps  
  • Low acid in the stomach (achlorhydria)  
  • Nausea  
  • Dehydration  
  • Abdominal pain and cramping  
  • Weight loss  
  • Facial flushing or redness

Signs and tests

  • High level of VIP (vasoactive intestinal peptide) in the blood  
  • High volume of diarrhea (continues despite fasting)

Fasting is one way to test for VIPoma.

The physician may also request that the stool be collected and analyzed to determine electrolyte content.

A CT scan or MRI may be ordered to determine the location of the tumor.


The first goal of treatment is to correct dehydration. Intravenous (IV) fluids are often required to replace fluids lost in diarrhea.

The next goal is to slow the diarrhea. Some medications can help control the diarrhea, such as octreotide, which is a hormone.

The best chance for cure is surgery to remove the tumor. If the tumor has not metastasized (spread to other organs), surgery can often cure it.

Expectations (prognosis)
Surgery can usually cure VIPomas, but about one-third to one-half of patients will have tumors that have spread by the time of diagnosis and are thus incurable.


  • Metastasis  
  • Dehydration  
  • Cardiac arrest from electrolyte imbalances

Calling your health care provider
If you have watery diarrhea for more than 2-3 days, you should call your doctor.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 7, 2012
by Mamikon Bozoyan, M.D.

Email this to a friend Bookmark this! Printable Version

Medical Encyclopedia
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z | 0-9

All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.
   [advanced search]   
What health info have you recently searched for online?
Disease or condition
Exercise or fitness
Diet, nutrition or vitamins
None of the above

Get free support - Headache Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment on

Health Centers


Health news

Health Encyclopedia

Diseases & Conditions

Drugs & Medications

Health Tools

Health Tools

   Health newsletter


   Medical Links

   RSS/XML News Feed


Add to Yahoo RSS News Feed

Google Reader


This website is accredited by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. We comply with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
Verify here.