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Open access

Hessa Boharoon, Shaunak Navalkissoor, Tu Vinh Luong, Martyn Caplin, and Ashley Grossman

Summary

Insulinomas are rare pancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs) that are typically sporadic and solitary, with the majority being <2 cm in diameter at diagnosis. The median duration of symptoms before diagnosis is variable; however, this is usually in the region of 12–18 months. We report on an insulinoma diagnosed some 25 years following initial symptoms, having by that stage attained a diameter of 4 cm. We present a 50-year-old man who was reported with hypoglycaemic symptoms on his wedding 25 years prior to eventual confirmation of an insulinoma. He had since learned to live with the symptoms by eating frequently to manage his hypoglycaemia. However, over recent months, he reported a substantial deterioration in his symptoms, and indeed, had collapsed on two occasions. He had a fasting glucose of 2.9 mmol/L with grossly inappropriate elevated insulin and C-peptide levels. MRI demonstrated a 4.1 cm lesion at the body of pancreas and an indeterminate 9-mm liver lesion with a negative 68Gallium-DOTATATE PET scan. Accordingly, he was initiated on diazoxide and referred to the surgical team for distal pancreatectomy: histology confirmed a 4.4-cm well-differentiated pancreatic NEN of intermediate grade (NEN G2, Grade 2, 2017 World Health Organization (WHO) pancreatic-NEN classification), with positive immunohistochemistry for insulin. His hypoglycaemia episodes have ceased, and he remains under active surveillance. Our case demonstrates the possibility of dietary control of insulinoma-induced hypoglycaemia, and the likelihood that such a prolonged delay in diagnosis has led to the uncommonly large size of the apparently benign tumour which is usually ‘small and indolent’.

Learning points

  • Most patients with insulinomas have lesions that are 1–2 cm in size, with 96% being less than 3 cm.

  • The mean tumour size of insulinomas found in 3 of the largest reported series was 1.5 cm, with a range of 0.1–7.0 cm.

  • It is not uncommon for patients to have symptoms for several months to years before diagnosis; however, no reported cases had the symptoms such long for 25 years, and the large size of the tumour in this case may reflect the very long history.

Open access

George Brown, Anthony Mark Monaghan, Richard Fristedt, Emma Ramsey, Ma’en Al-Mrayat, Rushda Rajak, Thomas Armstrong, and Arjun Takhar

Summary

Vasoactive intestinal peptide-secreting tumours (VIPomas) are an extremely rare form of functional pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour with an estimated annual incidence of 1 in 10 million. Associated tumour hypersecretion of other peptides, including pancreatic polypeptide (PPomas), may also be seen. These malignancies classically present with a defined triad of refractory diarrhoea, hypokalaemia and metabolic acidosis known as Verner–Morrison syndrome. Diagnosis is frequently delayed, and the majority of patients will have metastatic disease at presentation. Symptoms are usually well controlled with somatostatin analogue administration. Here we report a case of metastatic mixed VIPoma/PPoma-induced diarrhoea causing renal failure so severe that ultrafiltration was required to recover adequate renal function.

Learning points

  • Profuse, watery diarrhoea is a common presenting complaint with a multitude of aetiologies. This, combined with the rarity of these tumours, makes diagnosis difficult and frequently delayed. A functional neuroendocrine tumour should be suspected when diarrhoea is unusually extreme, prolonged and common causes have been promptly excluded.

  • These patients are likely to be profoundly unwell on presentation. They are extremely hypovolaemic with dangerous electrolyte and metabolic abnormalities. Aggressive initial rehydration and electrolyte replacement are imperative. A somatostatin analogue should be commenced as soon as the diagnosis is suspected.

  • This is an extreme example of Verner–Morrison syndrome. We are unaware of another case where renal failure secondary to diarrhoea and dehydration was so severe that renal replacement therapy was required to restore adequate renal function, further emphasising how critically unwell these patients can be.

  • Both the primary tumour and metastases showed a remarkably good and rapid response to somatostatin analogue administration. Cystic change and involution were noted on repeat imaging within days.

  • Prior to his illness, this patient was extremely high functioning with no medical history. His diagnosis was an enormous psychological shock, and the consideration and care for his psychological well-being were a crucial part of his overall management. It highlights the importance of a holistic approach to cancer care and the role of the clinical nurse specialist within the cancer multidisciplinary team.

Open access

Jenny S W Yun, Chris McCormack, Michelle Goh, and Cherie Chiang

Summary

Acanthosis nigricans (AN) is a common dermatosis associated with hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance. However, AN has been rarely reported in patients with insulinoma, a state of persistent hyperinsulinemia. We present a case of metastatic insulinoma, in whom AN manifested after the first cycle of peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT). A 40-year-old man was diagnosed with metastatic insulinoma after 5 months of symptomatic hypoglycemia. Within 1 month post PRRT, the patient became euglycemic but developed a pigmented, pruritic rash which was confirmed on biopsy as AN. We discuss the rare manifestation of AN in subjects with insulinoma, the role of insulin in the pathogenesis of AN, malignant AN in non-insulin-secreting malignancies and association with other insulin-resistant endocrinopathies such as acromegaly.

Learning points

  • Acanthosis nigricans (AN) is a common dermatosis which is typically asymptomatic and associated with the hyperinsulinemic state.

  • Malignant AN can rapidly spread, cause pruritus and affect mucosa and the oral cavity.

  • AN is extremely rare in patients with insulinoma despite marked hyperinsulinemia.

  • Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy might have triggered TGF-α secretion in this subject which led to malignant AN.

  • Rapid spread or unusual distribution of pruritic AN warrants further investigation to exclude underlying malignancy.

Open access

Filippo Crimì, Giulio Barbiero, Irene Tizianel, Laura Evangelista, and Filippo Ceccato

Summary

A 61-year-old man went to the Emergency Department with left upper abdominal quadrant pain and low-grade fever, as well as a loss of weight (3 kg in 6 weeks). A solid-cystic lesion in the left adrenal lodge was discovered by abdominal ultrasonography. A slight increase in the serum amylase with normal lipase was observed, but there were no signs or symptoms of pancreatitis. A contrast-enhanced CT revealed a tumor that was suspected of adrenocortical cancer. Therefore, he was referred to the endocrine unit. The hormonal evaluation revealed no signs of excessive or inadequate adrenal secretion. To characterize the mass, an MRI was performed; the lesion showed an inhomogeneous fluid collection with peripheral wall contrast-enhancement, as well as a minor 18-fluorodeoxyglucose uptake at PET/CT images. The risk of primary adrenal cancer was minimal after the multidisciplinary discussion. An acute necrotic collection after focal pancreatitis was suspected, according to the characteristics of imaging. Both CT-guided drainage of the necrotic accumulation and laboratory analysis of the aspirated fluid confirmed the diagnosis.

Learning points

  • Different types of expansive processes can mimic adrenal incidentalomas.

  • Necrotic collection after acute focal pancreatitis could be misdiagnosed as an adrenal mass, since its CT characteristics could be equivocal.

  • MRI has stronger capacities than CT in differentiating complex lesions of the adrenal lodge.

  • A multidisciplinary approach is fundamental in the management of patients with a newly discovered adrenal incidentaloma and equivocal/suspicious imaging features (low lipid content and size >4 cm).

Open access

N Ayub, A J A T Braat, H J L M Timmers, M G E H Lam, and R S van Leeuwaarde

Summary

Von Hippel–Lindau’s disease (VHL) is a hereditary tumor syndrome characterized by its prototype lesions, hemangioblastomas, and renal cell carcinomas. Treatment for renal cell carcinomas can ultimately result in long-term dialysis. Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (pNET) can also occur in the course of the disease. Currently, peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) is the standard treatment for progressive neuroendocrine tumors. However, little is known about treatment with PRRT in patients on dialysis, an infrequent presentation in patients with VHL. We present a 72-year-old man with VHL on hemodialysis and a progressive pNET. He received four cycles of PRRT with a reduced dose. Only mild thrombopenia was seen during treatments. The patient died 9 months after the last PRRT because of acute bleeding in a hemangioblastoma. Hemodialysis is not a limiting factor for PRRT treatment and it should be considered as it seems a safe short-term treatment option for this specific group.

Learning points

  • Von Hippel–Lindau disease (VHL) is a complex disease in which former interventions can limit optimal treatment for following VHL-related tumors later in life.

  • Metastasized pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors occur as part of VHL disease.

  • Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy seems a safe short-term treatment option in patients on hemodialysis.

Open access

Pranav Gupta, Karen Loechner, Briana C Patterson, and Eric Felner

Summary

Insulinomas are a rare cause of persistent hypoglycemia in a previously healthy child. In addition to symptoms of hypoglycemia, individuals with insulinomas usually present with a history of incessant caloric intake and weight gain due to a constant need to counter hypoglycemia. In addition to an extensive review of the literature, we report the first case of an insulinoma coexisting with reduced appetite secondary to anorexia nervosa in an adolescent female.

Learning points

  • Eliciting a detailed family history is important in hypoglycemia cases.

  • Obtaining a thorough dietary intake, weight history, and menstrual cycles (in females) and considering a psychiatric consultation for an eating disorder when indicated.

  • Although rare in the pediatric population, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 syndrome should be considered in the evaluation of children and adolescents with hypoglycemia who also have a family history of pituitary, pancreatic, and/or parathyroid endocrinopathies.

Open access

Nikitas S Skarakis, Irene Papadimitriou, Labrini Papanastasiou, Sofia Pappa, Anastasia Dimitriadi, Ioannis Glykas, Konstantinos Ntoumas, Penelope Lampropoulou, and Theodora Kounadi

Summary

Juxtaglomerular cell tumour (JGCT) is an unusually encountered clinical entity. A 33-year-old man with severe long-standing hypertension and hypokalaemia is described. The patient also suffered from polyuria, polydipsia, nocturia and severe headaches. On admission, laboratory investigation revealed hypokalaemia, kaliuresis, high aldosterone and renin levels, and the abdomen CT identified a mass of 4 cm at the right kidney. Kidney function was normal. Following nephrectomy, the histological investigation revealed the presence of a JGCT. Immunostaining was positive for CD34 as well as for smooth muscle actin and vimentin. Following surgery, a marked control of his hypertension with calcium channel blockers and normalization of the serum potassium, renin or aldosterone levels were reached. According to our findings, JGCT could be included in the differential diagnosis of secondary hypertension as it consists of a curable cause. The association of JGCT with hypertension and hypokalaemia focusing on the clinical presentation, diagnostic evaluation and management is herein discussed and a brief review of the existing literature is provided.

Learning points

  • Juxtaglomerular cell tumours (JGCT), despite their rarity, should be included in the differential diagnosis of secondary hypertension as they consist of a curable cause of hypertension.

  • JGCT could be presented with resistant hypertension along with hypokalaemia, kaliuresis and metabolic alkalosis. Early recognition and management can help to prevent cardiovascular complications.

  • Imaging (enhanced CT scans) may be considered as the primary diagnostic tool for the detection of renal or JGCT.

  • For the confirmation of the diagnosis, a histopathologic examination is needed.

Open access

Said Darawshi, Mahmoud Darawshi, and Deeb Daoud Naccache

Severe hypocalcaemia in breast cancer with bone metastasis is a rare finding usually associated with an advanced stage of the disease. We report a case of a 45-year-old woman with a history of local ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) of the breast, who presented with muscle tremors and general weakness. Hypocalcaemia was evident, with a positive Chvostek sign and a serum calcium level of 5.9 mg/dL (1.47 mmol/L), phosphorus 5.9 mg/dL (normal range: 2.3–4.7 mg/dL) with normal levels of albumin, magnesium and parathyroid hormone. High oral doses of alpha calcitriol and calcium with i.v. infusion of high calcium doses were instituted, altogether sufficient to maintain only mild hypocalcaemia. A whole-body CT revealed bone lesions along the axial skeleton. A biopsy from a bone lesion revealed a metastasis of breast carcinoma. With this pathological finding, leuprolide (GNRH analogue) and chlorambucil (alkylating agent) were initiated, followed by prompt tapering of infused calcium down to full discontinuation. Serum calcium was kept stable close to the low normal range by high doses of oral alpha calcitriol and calcium. This course raises suspicion that breast metastases to the skeleton caused tumour-induced hypocalcaemia by a unique mechanism. We assume that hypocalcaemia in this case was promoted by a combination of hypoparathyroidism and bone metastasis.

Learning points

  • Severe hypocalcaemia can a presenting symptom for breast cancer relapse.

Open access

Nynne Emilie Hummelshøj, Gitte Dam, Lars Henning Pedersen, Astrid Hjelholt, and Gerda Elisabeth Villadsen

Summary

This rare case describes the course of a pregnancy in a patient with a disseminated small intestinal neuroendocrine tumor. The patient received treatment with first-generation somatostatin ligand receptor (SLR) every 4 weeks and had stable disease for several years before her pregnancy. First-generation SLR treatment was initially paused after detection of the pregnancy. During pregnancy, the patient experienced moderate gastro-intestinal discomfort and fatigue, which was considered predominantly pregnancy related. However, since symptoms could be linked to the patient’s cancer, treatment was resumed after the first trimester. Chromogranin-A measurements remained stable throughout pregnancy and was paralleled by the absence of diarrhea and only minor flushing. She gave birth by elective caesarean section in week 37 to a healthy baby. Subsequent follow up imaging immediately after and 10 months postpartum showed no disease progression. The safety profile of SLR treatment during pregnancy in the context of disseminated neuroendocrine tumors (NET) is discussed.

Learning points

  • Neuroendocrine neoplasms (NEN) are rare cancers often occurring in the gastro-intestinal tract or lungs.

  • Many patients with NEN live for several years with disseminated disease.

  • SLR treatment has been given to pregnant patients before; often patients with acromegaly. Pregnancies are reported uneventful.

  • This patient completed an uneventful pregnancy while receiving SLR treatment for disseminated neuroendocrine disease and gave birth to a healthy baby.

  • More research regarding long term effects and safety signals of SLR treatment during pregnancy are much needed.

Open access

Ziad Hussein, Marta Korbonits, Stephanie E Baldeweg, and Teng-Teng Chung

Summary

We observed a novel therapeutic response with cabergoline in a male patient with a dopamine-secreting head and neck paraganglioma (HNPGL), macroprolactinoma and germline succinate dehydrogenase C mutation (SDHC). The macroprolactinoma was treated with cabergoline which gave an excellent response. He was found to have raised plasma 3-methoxytyramine of 1014 pmol/L (NR: 0–180 pmol/L); but it was unclear if this was a drug-induced phenomenon from dopamine agonist (DA) therapy. Cabergoline was stopped for 4 weeks and the 3-methoxytyramine level increased significantly to 2185 pmol/L, suggesting a biochemical response of his HNPGL. Subsequently, Gallium-68 Dotatate PET and MRI (Gallium-68 Dotatate PET/MRI) demonstrated a second lesion in the sacrum. Both the HNPGL and metastatic sacral deposit received external beam radiotherapy with a good biochemical and radiological response.

Conclusion

Our case report highlights the rare potential of germline SDHC mutations causing metastatic paraganglioma and concurrent pituitary tumours. Cabergoline treatment may lower elevated 3-methoxytyramine levels and, therefore, mask the biochemical evidence of metastatic disease but also may have therapeutic relevance in dopamine-secreting pheochromocytomas/paragangliomas (PPGLs).

Learning points

  • Several neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) express dopamine D2 and D4 receptors. In this case report, cabergoline significantly reduced plasma 3-methoxytyramine level in a patient with functional HNPGL. Cabergoline might have therapeutic relevance in dopamine-secreting PPGLs.

  • Paragangliomas associated with SDHC mutation classically present with asymptomatic non-functional HNPGL and have rare metastatic potential.

  • The association of pheochromocytoma or paraganglioma and pituitary adenoma is now a well-described rare association (<1%), designated as the three P association. While the three P association is most commonly seen with succinate dehydrogenase B and D mutations, it has also been described in patients with SDHA and SDHC mutations.

  • Cabergoline treatment may lower elevated 3-methoxytyramine levels and mask the biochemical evidence of metastatic disease. Regular functional imaging with Gallium-68 Dotatate PET/MRI provides better evidence of metastatic disease.