The role of surgery in the treatment of gastrinoma is unclear. The purpose of this study was to determine prospectively the surgical cure rate using a controlled clinical trial. Eleven patients who fit the entry criteria underwent abdominal exploration and attempted tumor resection for cure. A historical control group was used for comparison. Cure was defined as: (1) normal serum gastrin level, (2) no response to intravenous secretin, (3) no symptoms when antisecretory medications are stopped, and (4) no tumor recurrence on follow-up examination. Tumors found in both groups tended to be small (1.5 cm vs. 2.2 cm), multiple (71% vs. 40%), and in lymph nodes (70% vs. 70%). All tumors identified were located anatomically within the gastrinoma triangle. Tumors were found in 10 of 11 patients (91%) in the study group, and significantly more patients had their tumors excised for cure as compared to controls (82% vs. 27%, p < 0.05). The current prospective cure rate for gastrinoma is higher than previously appreciated and tumors within lymph nodes do not preclude curative resection.
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