Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 2 (MEN2) is a rare hereditary disease. Individuals who acquire MEN2 genes develop over-activity and swelling of certain endocrine glands. Parathyroid, adrenal glands and thyroid are endocrine glands that mostly get affected by MEN2. People who inherit MEN2 will develop medullary thyroid cancer at some point in their life.
The endocrine glands become overactive and start producing adrenaline because of a tumor in the medulla of the adrenal gland. This over-activity of endocrine glands may occur simultaneously or at different times in one’s life.
Since MEN2 is an uncommon disorder, approximately 1 in 20,000 people will carry the gene for MEN 2. It is easily passed on from generations to generations. A child can inherit MEN2 if one of the parents has MEN2. Men and women both are likely to inherit the MEN 2 gene from an affected parent. The disease is not restricted to any age group. However, only a small portion of people with endocrine disorders have MEN 2.
Diagnosis of Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 2
Endocrine gland over-activity is rare if a person born with MEN2 gene is below 10 years of age. Various endocrine glands become overactive at different stages in life. Generally, as the age increases the likelihood of endocrine gland over-activity and the development of adenoma increases as well.
People affected by MEN2 gene will have some sort of endocrine gland over-activity. Overactive adenoma is detected with the help of some blood tests that measure ionized calcium and parathyroid hormone in the blood before people reach 30 years of age. It is beneficial for all people to get themselves tested for MEN2 before 30.
Endocrine glands that are affected by MEN2
MEN2 and MEN1 differ by one way which is people carrying MEN2 gene will surely get thyroid cancer. The type of thyroid cancer is more severe in MEN2 carrying people as compared with those normal individuals who have thyroid cancer.
This type of cancer begins early in MEN2 patients and spreads quickly. Keeping this point in mind, patients are advised to get their thyroid surgically removed while they are in prime age.
Tests for detecting MEN2
There are two kinds of tests for MEN2: One that tests the inheritance of the MEN2 gene and second that checks people for endocrine gland over-activity. These tests become more important if a family member has the MEN2 gene.
Right now, it is impossible to cure MEN2 because it requires replacement of faulty gene in billions of the body's cells. However, in coming future there will be medicines to prevent MEN 2-related endocrine gland over-activity. Till then surgical removal of the overactive adenomas is the only available treatment.