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VIPoma is a very rare cancer that usually grows from cells in the pancreas called islet cells.


VIPoma causes cells in the pancreas to produce a high level of a hormone called vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP). This hormone increases secretions from the intestines. It also relaxes some of the smooth muscles in the gastrointestinal system.

The cause is not known.

VIPomas are often diagnosed in adults, most commonly at age 50. Women are more likely to be affected than men. This cancer is rare. Each year, only about 1 in 10 million people are diagnosed with a VIPoma.


Symptoms of VIPoma may include any of the following:

  • Abdominal pain and cramping
  • Diarrhea (watery, and often in large amounts)
  • Dehydration
  • Flushing or redness of the face
  • Muscle cramps due to low blood calcium (hypokalemia)
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss

Exams and Tests

Tests that may be done include:


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

The next goal is to slow the diarrhea. Medicines can help control diarrhea. One such medicine is octreotide. It is a manmade form of a natural hormone that blocks the action of VIP.

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.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Surgery can usually cure VIPomas. But, in one third to one half of people, the tumor has spread by the time of diagnosis and cannot be cured.

Possible Complications

Complications may include:

  • Cancer spread (metastasis)
  • Cardiac arrest from low blood potassium level
  • Dehydration

When to Contact a Medical Professional

If you have watery diarrhea for more than 2 to 3 days, call your doctor.

Alternative Names

Vasoactive intestinal peptide-producing tumor; VIPoma syndrome; Pancreatic endocrine tumor



Jensen RT, Norton JA. Endocrine tumors of the pancreas and gastrointestinal tract. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 32.

National Cancer Institute. PDQ Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (islet cell tumors) treatment. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute. Date last modified March 7, 2014. Available at: www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/isletcell/HealthProfessional/page8. Accessed February 27, 2015.

Update Date 11/26/2014

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