Insulinoma is a tumor that grows in the pancreas. This condition makes the body produce more insulin than needed. Therefore, people with insulinoma can experience complaints related to low blood sugar levels, such as blurry vision, dizziness, and even decreased consciousness.

Normally, the pancreas produces insulin when the body needs it. Insulin production will increase when blood sugar levels are high and will decrease when blood sugar levels are low. That way, normal blood sugar levels will be maintained.

In people with insulinoma, insulin continues to be produced even though it is not needed. This condition makes blood sugar levels drop drastically ( hypoglycemia ).

Insulinoma is usually a benign tumor, but in rare cases, insulinoma can also become a malignant tumor and spread to other organs.

Causes of Insulinoma

The cause of insulinoma is not known with certainty. However, there are several conditions that are thought to increase a person's risk of developing insulinoma, namely:

  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 or Werner's syndrome , which are tumors that grow in the endocrine glands, small intestine, and stomach
  • Neurofibromatosis type 1, which is a genetic disorder that interferes with cell growth so that tumors grow in nerve tissue and skin
  • Tuberous sclerosis , which is a tumor that develops in many parts of the body, such as the brain, eyes, heart, kidneys, lungs, and skin
  • Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, which is a genetic disorder that causes the growth of several tumors and cysts in a number of organs, such as the adrenal glands, pancreas, kidneys and urinary tract

Insulinoma Symptoms

People with insulinoma do not always show symptoms. When it appears, the symptoms can vary, depending on the severity of the patient's condition, including:

  • Dizzy
  • Easily tired
  • Sweating
  • pounding heart ( palpitations )
  • Hungry often
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Moods ( mood ) often change
  • Confused, anxious, and irritable
  • Tremor (shaking)

When to see a doctor

Immediately consult a doctor if you experience the symptoms mentioned above. Examination needs to be done as early as possible to detect the cause of the appearance of these symptoms, especially if your sugar level is always low. Thus, the doctor can determine the right treatment according to your condition.

Seek immediate medical attention if you have seizures or loss of consciousness due to low blood sugar levels.

Diagnosis of Insulinoma

The doctor will ask questions and answers about the symptoms, as well as the history of the disease in the patient and his family. After that, the doctor will carry out a physical examination, followed by supporting examinations.

Some of the supporting examinations that can be carried out by doctors are:

  • Blood tests, to check blood sugar levels and insulin levels
  • Scanning with CT scan and MRI, to determine the location and size of the tumor
  • Endoscopic biopsy, to take tissue samples suspected of being a tumor and then examine them in the laboratory

Insulinoma Treatment

The main treatment for insulinoma is surgical removal of the tumor. The type of surgery that can be performed depends on the type, size, and location of the tumor, including:

  • Laparoscopic or keyhole surgery, by making a small incision in the abdomen to remove the insulinoma
  • Cryotherapy, by giving special fluids to destroy tumor cells
  • Radiofrequency ablation, using radio waves to kill cancer cells

In addition to the above procedures, the doctor may also recommend chemotherapy , which is the administration of drugs to kill cancer cells.

Insulinoma Complications

Insulinoma can cause a number of complications if not treated properly, namely:

  • Severe hypoglycemia
  • Tumor spreading to other parts of the body (metastasis)
  • Swelling and inflammation of the pancreas
  • seizures
  • Loss of consciousness to coma

In addition to complications due to disease, sufferers can also experience complications due to surgical removal of insulinoma, including:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Diabetes
  • Lack of digestive enzymes

Insulinoma Prevention

There is no known way to prevent insulinoma. However, people with insulinoma can make several efforts to prevent a decrease in blood sugar and maintain the health of the pancreas, namely:

  • Eat a healthy, nutritionally complete and balanced diet
  • Increase consumption of vegetables and fruits
  • Limit consumption of red meat
  • Quit smoking
  • Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages
  • Maintain ideal body weight
  • Exercise regularly
Back to blog