The multiple endocrine neoplasias, or MEN for short, are a group of inherited diseases which cause tumors to grow in the endocrine glands of the body.
The endocrine glands affected in multiple endocrine neoplasia are the pituitary gland, the thyroid gland, the parathyroid glands, the adrenal glands and the pancreas.
So in multiple endocrine neoplasias there are tumors that form in these glands that lead to overproduction of hormones.
Let’s start by going through the glands that are affected and what they do.
The pituitary gland is a pea-sized gland found at the base of the brain that makes hormones to control many of the other endocrine glands in the body.
These hormones include thyroid stimulating hormone which acts on the thyroid to make thyroid hormone, adrenal corticotropic hormone that acts on the adrenal glands to make cortisol, follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone which acts on the ovaries and testes to make estrogen in women and testosterone in men.
So it’s like the king of the endocrine glands telling them how much hormone to produce.
The pituitary also makes growth hormone which makes you grow, prolactin which stimulates milk production in women, oxytocin which triggers milk release, antidiuretic hormone which help the kidneys reabsorb water, and melanocyte stimulating hormone helps the melanocytes create more melanin or pigment.
Next, in the neck is the thyroid gland which makes thyroid hormones that control the metabolic rate, as well as calcitonin, a hormone that decreases calcium levels.