Running in the Family – Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia (MEN)

We all know that Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) and their syndromes are complex but there is even more complexity to be found in a group of related disorders known as Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia (MEN).  I recommend all NET patients should try to understand the basics of MEN and vice versa, particularly as both conditions seem to come with a plethora of endocrine related effects.

Overview

MEN patients will normally have a tumour in at least two endocrine glands – thus the terms ‘Multiple’ and ‘Endocrine’ (tumours can also develop in other organs and tissues).  Neoplasia is just another name for tumour and these can be non-cancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant) with the potential to metastasize.

MEN syndromes can comprise varying combinations of tumours and many will be aware of the tumour risks from family knowledge.  So putting the heredity aspects to one side, it’s potentially an extremely challenging surveillance and subsequent diagnostic scenario if (and when) these risks are realised.  To add to the complexity, some of the associated tumours can be sporadic (non hereditary) classic Neuroendocrine Tumours in various locations.

MEN Types

MEN is actually an umbrella term for a number of types (syndromes) of the disease – MEN1, MEN2a and 2b (2b was formerly MEN3). There’s a new kid on the block called MEN4 which is extremely rare.

In the most basic of terms regarding the relationship with tumours:

MEN1 seems to be centred on tumours of the parathyroid glands, the pituitary gland, and the pancreas (the 3 P’s).

MEN2a mainly focuses on medullary thyroid carcinoma, pheochromocytoma, parathyroid hyperplasia or adenomas (causing hyperparathyroidism), and occasionally cutaneous lichen amyloidosis.

MEN2b  medullary thyroid carcinoma, pheochromocytoma, multiple mucosal neuromas and intestinal ganglioneuromas, and often a marfanoid habitus and other skeletal abnormalities.

MEN4 – A relatively new MEN variant and related to the CDKN1B gene, similar to MEN1 but normally only 2 of the 3 Ps, parathyroid and pituitary. Also referred to as MENX Possible association with tumors of the adrenals, kidneys, and reproductive organs.

What is particularly distinctive with MEN is that they are inherited disorders (familial).  That means that they can be passed down in families, with each child of an affected parent having a 1 in 2 or 50% risk of inheritance. Consequently genetic screening/testing is normally undertaken in established MEN families and those at risk of MEN.

Associated Types

You may also have heard of other NETs with a familial aspect, in particular Pheochromocytomas (adrenal gland tumours) and Paragangliomas (outside the adrenal gland),  Not all are inherited and I mention them because of the connection with MEN2a and MEN2b.  Read more here – A spotlight on Pheochromocytoma and Paraganglioma

There are other less common connections with NET, mainly Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome (VHL), Neurofibromatosis type 1, Tuberous Sclerosis complex and Carney complex. 

You may also enjoy my article on Genetics and Neuroendocrine Cancer

Further information

  • AMEN Support
  • A great video from Dr Mark Lewis who is an Oncologist and MEN patient.  This is great as he speaks as both!  Click here to watch
  • More technical information can be found on the NIH site here including the genetic aspects.
  • For MEN patients, there is an excellent support group forum here – Join the AMEN Support patient support group.

I’m grateful to my friend and MEN patient Linda Hageman for supporting my blog activities and also for allowing me to join the AMEN support group to learn more.  This is one of the friendliest and well run support groups I’ve seen.  On this site, you will find Dr Mark Lewis, an Oncologist and MEN patient who supports Linda (who is a Nurse) with a ‘Ask the Doctor’ section on their website.

There are other organisations including one specifically for Pheochromocytomas and I’m grateful to Jennifer Shepard for featuring my nutrition blog series.  Further help on Pheochromocytomas (Pheo) and Paragangliomas (Para) can be found at the Pheo Para Alliance who have also signalled appreciation for my work. 

Complex area.

Subscribe to my newsletter

Thanks for reading.

Ronny

I’m also active on Facebook. Like my page for even more news. Help me build up my new site here – click here and ‘Like’

Sign up for my newsletters –  Click Here

Disclaimer

My Diagnosis and Treatment History

Follow me on twitter

Check out my online presentations

Check out my WEGO Health Awards

Remember ….. in the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life!

patients included

Please Share this post for Neuroendocrine Cancer awareness and to help another patient

 
 
 
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on email
Email

2 thoughts on “Running in the Family – Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia (MEN)

I love comments - feel free!

%d bloggers like this: