What are multiple endocrine neoplasia I and II?

Multiple endocrine neoplasia I and II (MEN I and MEN II) are conditions that impact your endocrine system. That system that makes, stores and sends out hormones into your body. This condition is passed down from a parent to a child. It causes tumors to grow on many different glands within your endocrine system. Sometimes these tumors are cancer. Sometimes they're not.

Causes of MEN I and MEN II

These conditions are genetic. That means you have to have a parent with one of the conditions in order to get it yourself. In your body, there are different proteins. One is called menin. It works to suppress the growth of tumors. When you have MEN I, a gene in your body keeps the menin from working properly. That can cause tumors to start growing because the protein can't suppress them as well. MEN II happens when you have a defect on a gene called RET. This defect makes tumors grow on your adrenal, parathyroid and thyroid glands.

Risk factors for MEN I and MEN II

Both MEN I and MEN II are passed down from a parent to their child. The parent has a specific gene that causes the condition to develop. You only need to have one parent with the gene to get the condition. The condition affects both men and women equally. The symptoms can develop at any age.

Symptoms of MEN I and MEN II

Both of these conditions involve your body creating tumors, or abnormal growths of cells, on the glands or organs that make up your endocrine system. This can include your pancreas, parathyroid glands, pituitary gland and adrenal glands. You may have no symptoms for years or develop them over time.

  • Other symptoms of MEN I and MEN II include:
  • Developing tumors on your lips, tongue or eyelids (usually before the age of 10)
  • Stools that are black and look like tar
  • Lack of menstrual periods in women
  • Decreased sexual interest
  • Loss of body hair in men
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • High blood pressure
  • Vision problems
  • Abdominal pain
  • Kidney stones

Diagnosis of MEN I and MEN II

These conditions are passed down from a parent. That means diagnosis begins with your doctor gathering a complete medical history about you and your family. It's also important to let your doctor know if you have a sibling with this condition. Next, your doctor will do a complete physical exam. This helps them rule out other conditions that may be causing your symptoms.

Your doctor will then order blood tests. These check you for higher than normal hormone levels. If the tests show high levels, your doctor may order a CT scan or an MRI. These are two procedures that let the doctor see inside your dog. This is how your doctor can to look for tumors on your glands.

At this point, your doctor may strongly recommend genetic testing, especially if you haven't had it already. This can show your doctor whether or not you have the gene for getting MEN I or MEN II. Everyone who has these conditions in their family get blood tests to check for the genes as early as possible.

Treatments for MEN I and MEN II

You and your doctor can work together to figure out the right treatment. Having surgery is usually your choice. Tumors on the pituitary gland and the parathyroid are usually not cancerous. Some tumors on the pancreas can be cancer. It can spread to the liver. This is life-threatening.

Treatments for multiple endocrine neoplasia I and II (MEN I and MEN II) include:

  • Surgery to remove tumors, depending on whether they're cancerous
  • Surgery to remove your thyroid gland, which is often a preventative measure for people with MEN II
  • Medication to address the impacts of too many hormones or to replace hormones that your body isn't making anymore
  • Your family members might want to undergo genetic testing, too. This helps them see if they're at risk for these conditions.

Recovery from MEN I and MEN II

Even if you've had surgery to remove tumors from your endocrine glands, there's a possibility that they might return. You may need to take hormone replacement therapy. Discuss this option with your doctor. Stay in contact with your medical team, too. It's important to have regular visits with your doctor. They can monitor your symptoms and overall health.

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