During a six-year period (1973–9) 52 patients with pancreatic tumours and 10 with ganglioneuroblastomas were found to have raised plasma vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) concentrations. All the patients had severe secretory diarrhoea, weight loss, dehydration, hypokalaemic acidosis, and a raised plasma urea concentration. Reduced gastric acid secretion was seen in 72% of patients. Plasma VIP concentrations were not raised in patients with diarrhoea due to other types of tumour or disease or in hormone-secreting tumours not associated with diarrhoea. Plasma VIP measurement may therefore give clinical guidance in a patient with persistent watery diarrhoea and hypokalaemic acidosis. Surgical excision was clearly the treatment of choice, but metastatic pancreatic tumours usually responded to streptozotocin.
ASJC Scopus subject areas