Genetics Information Sheet-MULTIPLE ENDOCRINE NEOPLASIA, TYPE II; MEN2

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Genetics Information Sheet
If this Information Sheet is more than 6 months old (date of production at foot of
document), please contact The Centre for Genetics Education for an update.
IMPORTANT: Genetics Fact Sheets Number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 44 and the
relevant support group listing from The 2004-2005 Genetics Resource
Book should accompany this Information Sheet.
*
PO Box 317
St. Leonards NSW 1590
MULTIPLE ENDOCRINE NEOPLASIA, TYPE II;
(
(02) 9926 7324
MEN2
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(02) 9906 7529
Includes
:
MEN2A, MEN2B
[email protected]
medullary thyroid carcinoma with phaeochromocytoma, Sipple
syndrome, Familial Medullary Thyroid carcinoma

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www.genetics.com.au
GENERAL INFORMATON ABOUT MEN2
DISCLAIMER
Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 2 or MEN2 is a rare inherited disorder
The resources which are developed by
where tumours develop in one or more of the endocrine glands, the thyroid,
The Centre for Genetics Education, a
the adrenal and the parathyroid glands. Individuals with MEN2 have a high
branch of the NSW Genetics Service, and
risk of developing a particular type of thyroid cancer known as medullary
those resources developed elsewhere
thyroid cancer or MTC.
which are distributed by The Centre for
Genetics Education are intended for
Endocrine glands release hormones into the bloodstream. Hormones are
educational purposes only. The Centre for
powerful chemicals that travel through our blood to target organs and
Genetics Education is a public educational
control their functioning. Normally hormones are carefully balanced to meet
service which aims to bring the agencies
the body’s needs. However people with MEN2 have an increased chance
and services involved in the field of
of developing tumours in the thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal endocrine
genetics to the attention of potential
glands which may lead to overproduction of some of the hormones
clients and the community. All efforts are
produced by these glands.
made to ensure that information and
resources provided by the Centre are
There are three subtypes of MEN 2
based on current medical information and
are accurate. Client referrals to genetics
1. MEN 2A:
services, genetic support groups and
People with MEN 2A have a high risk of developing medullary
community services agencies by The
thyroid cancer (MTC), pheochromocytoma (a tumour of the adrenal
Centre for Genetics Education are based
glands) and a parathyroid tumour. MEN2A is the most common type of
on current listings of availability of those
MEN2 (60-90% of cases)
services. The Centre assumes no
2. MEN 2B:
responsibility for the type, amount or
People with MEN 2B have a high risk of medullary thyroid cancer
quality of assistance, support or service
(MTC) and an increased risk for pheochromocytoma. In addition they
provided by other agencies. The enclosed
often have nerve tumours in their mouth and their gut, enlarged lips
information is in no way to be seen or
with a distinctive face, and a particular tall and thin appearance know
taken to be a substitute for individual
as “Marfanoid” body shape.
advice concerning diagnosis or treatment
from an appropriately skilled genetics
3.
Familial medullary thyroid carcinoma (FMTC): People with
specialist.
FMTC have MTC without pheochromocytoma or parathyroid tumour.
www.genetics.com.au
The Centre for Genetics Education www.genetics.com.au
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MEN2 is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner which means that children of individuals with MEN2 have a
50% chance of inheriting the gene. Individuals with a family history of MEN2 even if they have no symptoms should
seek genetic counselling and screening.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT MEN2
The thyroid gland is found in the middle of the neck, just under the Adam’s apple. Normally it makes the hormone
thyroxine which regulates the metabolic rate. Thyroxine levels are not affected by Medullary Thyroid Cancer (MTC)
in MEN2. The thyroid gland also makes the hormone calcitonin which has a small role in calcium metabolism. This
hormone is made in the C cells of the thyroid. MTCs arise from the C cells and can make large amounts of calcitonin
which can cause diarrhoea. There are no symptoms in early medullary thyroid cancer however when the tumour
becomes large, a lump may appear in the neck and there may be lymph gland enlargement and diarrhoea.
The adrenal glands are small organs that are located above each of the kidneys. They release hormones such as
adrenaline during stress. People with MEN2A & MEN2B may develop a rare tumour of the adrenal glands called a
phaeochromocytoma. This is mostly a benign (non-cancerous) tumour however phaeochromocytoma results in
adrenal hormones being made in excessive amounts. This can result in elevated blood pressure and symptoms such
as anxiety, a racing pulse, palpitations, headache and flushing.
The parathyroid glands are 4 small glands in the neck behind the thyroid gland that release the parathyroid
hormone which is involved with calcium metabolism. In MEN2A but not in MEN 2B, one or more parathyroid glands
may become enlarged and overproduce parathyroid hormone resulting in the condition hyperparathyroidism. In
hyperparathyroidism, the calcium in the blood becomes elevated and may lead to kidney stones, osteoporosis,
abdominal pain, dehydration and general malaise.
Thyroid gland
The parathyroid glands are 4
small glands that sit behind the
thyroid gland

Adrenal glands
Diagram 1. Location of the thyroid, adrenal and parathyroid glands
This image was reproduced with permission from the Better Health Channel: www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au
WHAT CAUSES MULTIPLE ENDOCRINE NEOPLASIA TYPE 2 (MEN 2)
MEN2 is a genetic disorder which is inherited in an autosomal dominant genetic manner. MEN2 results from having
an alteration (a mutation) in a specific gene. This triggers tumour formation in some endocrine glands.
Autosomal dominant inheritance means most individuals with MEN2 inherit the gene from their mother or their father.
Children of parents with MEN2, both boys and girls, each have a 50% chance of having the gene. This also means
that they have a 50% chance of not having the gene. About 5% of cases of MEN2A and up to 50% cases of MEN2B
arise “de-novo”, where there is no family history of MEN2 and the affected person is the first in the family.
The Centre for Genetics Education www.genetics.com.au
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For further information about the autosomal dominant form of genetic inheritance, see the Centre for Genetics
Education Fact sheet 7 located on www.genetics.com.au.

The gene for MEN2 is known as the RET gene. Many mutations within the gene have been identified in individuals
with MEN2. RET is an oncogene which promotes cell division and is located on chromosome 10 (10q11.2). MEN2
may occur when a mutation in the RET gene switches it on inappropriately resulting in uncontrolled cell growth.
For further information about the mechanism of oncogenes, see The Centre for Genetics Education Fact Sheet 44
on www.genetics.com.au.

Genetic testing is available for individuals in families suspected of having an inherited MEN2 gene. The search for a
mutation is first done by taking blood from one of the affected family members. This testing may take time. If a
mutation is identified in one member of the family affected by MEN2 then other blood relatives can be offered genetic
testing to see if they have the mutation.
For more information about what genetic counselling can offer, please refer to Genetics Fact Sheet # 5.
Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia 1(MEN1).
A condition called MEN1 exists that is also a dominantly inherited genetic disorder of the endocrine glands. MEN1
however is characterised by tumours in the parathyroid gland, the pituitary and the pancreas, is the result of
mutations in the MEN1 gene. It is distinctly different from MEN2.
WHO IS AFFECTED BY MULTIPLE ENDOCRINE NEOPLASIA TYPE 2 (MEN 2)?
MEN2 is a dominantly inherited genetic disorder affecting males and females in equal numbers. It is very rare.
The age when symptoms first appear is typically in early childhood in MEN2B, late childhood or early adulthood in
MEN2A, and in adulthood in FMTC.
IS THERE ANY TREATMENT FOR MULTIPLE ENDOCRNE NEOPLASIA TYPE 2 (MEN 2)?
Management of people with MEN2 is aimed at prevention and early detection of tumours as well as control of effects
from altered hormone levels. Medullary thyroid cancer may spread to lymph nodes if not treated. Serious
complications may also arise from the presence of phaeochromocytoma and parathyroid tumours.
Surgical removal of the thyroid gland as a preventative measure is recommended treatment. For children the age for
surgery differs according to the type of mutation that has occurred. Generally surgery is recommended from an early
age and for individuals with MEN2B, as early as possible. The function of the gland can be replaced by giving the
hormone thyroxine. The hormone calcitonin does not need to be replaced.
Screening for the presence of phaeochromocytoma and hyperparathyroidism is also conducted before thyroid
surgery and adrenal or parathyroid surgery may also be appropriate. Annual tests of the blood and possibly the urine
for screening with follow up are recommended.
The Centre for Genetics Education www.genetics.com.au
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RESOURCES
To find out whether there is a relevant Australian Support Group for general peer support and
possible contact with other affected individuals or families, contact:
Association of Genetic Support of Australasia (AGSA)
66 Albion Street
SURRY HILLS NSW 2010
( (02) 9211 1462
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: http://www.agsa-geneticsupport.com.au
Additional information and Support may be available from the following international sources:
OVERSEAS GROUPS
The Association for Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Disorders (AMEND)
Website provides a link and resource for patients throughout the world who have the rare
hereditary conditions of M.E.N. Type 1 or Type 2.
http://www.amend.org.uk/website
For information regarding local genetic counselling services:
The Centre for Genetics Education
PO Box 317
ST LEONARDS NSW 1590
( (02) 9926 7324
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: http://www.genetics.com.au
REFERENCES
This information sheet is based on information obtained from the follow sources:
OMIM
MENDELIAN INHERITANCE IN MAN ON-LINE:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Omim
Accessed on 01/06/05
In consultation with key researchers and clinical experts.
CGE
Oct 2005
The Centre for Genetics Education www.genetics.com.au
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