Treating Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome with Aciphex

You may not have heard of Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome (ZES). It is a fairly rare condition. However, aside from diet and stress, Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome is among the more common causes of heartburn, acid reflux, and ulcers.

The condition is actually caused by tiny tumors called gastrinomas that are located in the pancreas and/or the duodenum. These tumors cause the stomach to have extra acid. The symptoms are similar to peptic ulcers:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Severe acid and gastroesophageal reflux

However, while gastrinomas could eventually cause a sufferer of ZES to develop peptic ulcers, the major risk involved is the tumors metastasizing and spreading throughout the body.


If a person suffers these symptoms, he or she-mainly 30 to 50 year old hes-will report them to a physician. That physician looks at the symptoms and, if he or she feels that it is necessary, measures the stomach acid and gastrin in the blood of the patient. If the measurements suggest it might be ZES, imaging tests such as OctreoScan, Angiography, Ultrasound, and CT Scan will be used to find tumors in the pancreas and duodenum.


  • About 25% of cases are truly cancerous. These patients can expect a 1­year survival rate of 30%. This is a gloomy guess, but modern medicine is making strides all the time and studies are currently in the undertaking.
  • 75% of cases are slow-growth cancers. The 10-year survival rate is a healthy 95% for this group. Because medicine has become very good at treating peptic ulcers and gastric reflux, the early stages of disease should be very comfortable.
  • If caught early, as it is for most patients with cancer, ZES patients have a better shot of recovery and remission. If you have the symptoms of ZES, talk to a doctor immediately.


  • Malignant cancer is treated by the surgical removal of gastrinomas. This is the only sure-fire cure for ZES.
  • If the cancer has heavily metastasized ­ that is, if it has spread widely throughout the body ­ chemotherapy is a good option. The most common medications are Adrucil, Doxil, and Zanosar.
  • Symptoms are treated using a class of drugs called protein-pump inhibitors (sometimes protein pump inhibitors). These drugs reduce the amount of acid in the stomach. This is the same treatment for ulcers and gastroesophogeal reflux (acid reflux).

One of the most common ways to treat ZES is with Aciphex. With the common name Rabeprazole, this drug comes as an extended release 20mg tablet to be taken once a day. One advantage of AcipHex is that the patient does not have to change their diet unless advised to do so by a doctor.

That Aciphex is safe to be used by adolescents (people 12 years and older) as well as adults is another big advantage over other reflux medications. Note that adolescents and adults generally experience different side effects:

  • Adolescents most often experience headache, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and pain in the abdomen.
  • Adults more commonly experience pain, sore throat, gas, infection, and constipation.

Keep in mind that many people do not experience any side effects, while most side effects go away quickly as the body adjusts.