Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

An endocrine tumor, usually originating in the pancreas, which produces a vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, believed to cause profound cardiovascular and electrolyte changes with vasodilatory hypotension, watery diarrhea, hypokalemia, and dehydration.


VIPoma is a very rare type of cancer that usually grows from cells in the pancreas called islet cells. The disease causes these cells to produce extremely high levels of vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), a hormone that regulates water transport in the intestines.

VIPomas affect about one in 10 million people per year. Most of them occur as isolated tumors, but in some cases they are part of a bigger syndrome called multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN 1).

The exact cause of VIPoma is not known, although genetics are believed to be a factor. A family history of MEN and similar syndromes can also increase one's risk. Most patients are adults in their 50s, and women are more likely to develop it than men.

Because there is no known cause, the best line of prevention is regular screening and maintaining good overall health. Patients who have one or more risk factors, or who have previously been treated for endocrine tumors, should be tested at least once or twice a year.


Symptoms may include:

    Abdominal pain and cramping.

  • Diarrhea (watery, and often in large amounts).

  • Flushing or redness of the face.

  • Nausea.

  • Weight loss.


VIPomas are usually found incidentally while testing for other conditions, usually during a stool lest for prolonged diarrhea. Abnormal electrolyte levels can indicate cancer, but not necessarily VIPoma. If VIPoma is suspected, the doctor will perform the following tests, which may include:

    Blood chemistry tests (basic or comprehensive metabolic panel).

  • CT scan of the abdomen.

  • MRI of the abdomen.

  • The doctor may also perform an octreotide scan, which tests for cancer in other parts of the body.

  • Stool examination for cause of diarrhea and electrolyte levels.

  • Vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) level in the blood.


The first goal of treatment is to correct dehydration. Fluids are often given through a vein (intravenous fluids) to replace fluids lost in diarrhea.

The next goal is to slow the diarrhea. Medicines can help control diarrhea. Discuss the medical options with your PCP (primary care physician). The best chance of a cure is surgery to remove the tumor. If the tumor has not spread to other organs, surgery can often cure the condition.

NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


  1. Lethia

    What do you do if you have all of the above symptoms and have all of the above test and have elevated VIP and ChromagraminA but no tumor can be found……. Doctors don’t know what to do with you or how to treat you.

    • editor-m

      According to the results of your tests (elevated VIP and Chromogramin A) Wermer Syndrome (MEN Type 1) may be suspected. To verify the diagnosis you would need an MRI of your head with attention to the sella turcica region.


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