Pancreatic Cancer (Glucagonoma) in Dogs

Pancreas is an important organ of the body. Located behind stomach, this endocrine gland is responsible for maintaining sugar level and excreting digestive enzymes in the body. A special type of cells, known as islets of Langerhans, are scattered throughout the pancreas. These cells are responsible for making and releasing of insulin and glucagon in the body. Specific cells within islets of Langerhans, called alpha cells, are specifically responsible for production of glucagon in the body. 

Glucagonoma refers to a rare neoplasim (abnormal growth of cells) of alpha-pancreatic islet cells. This results in over production of glucagon (a hormone involved in metabolism of carbohydrates) which results in a number of responses, including an increased breakdown of proteins into amino acids (a process known as protein catabolism), and an increased breakdown of fat stored in fat sales (known as lipolysis).

This extremely rare form of neoplasim is found in older dogs of any age, breed or sex.

The most common symptom of this condition is a characteristic dermatitis or skin abnormality. Skin lesions include crusting  and general erosions located around mucus membrane of the mouth and genitalia. 

Lesions may also appear on the pads of the feet and other extremities. The footpads are often the only affected area, and are typically very painful.

Additional symptoms of glucagonoma include sluggishness, diarrhea, weight loss, and incontinence. Secondary yeast infections are also common accompanying effects.

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