Ménétrier's disease is a relatively rare condition affecting the stomach, which manifests with digestive troubles and is related to the stomach cancer.
The exact cause of the disease is not known. It is assumed that it has some relationship to chronic presence of Helicobacter pylori in the stomach of the affected patient. However, the bacterium is widespread and the incidence of Ménétrier's disease is very low, so there are possible more additional causative factors.
Ménétrier's disease is related to hypertrophy of stomach mucosa forming large mucosal folds. This mucosal affection increases secretion of mucus and proteins resulting in diarrhea and symptoms of protein deficiency such as the tissue edema and weight loss. Microscopic changes of the mucosal lining are related to increased risk of stomach cancer.
The disease may be confirmed by upper GI endoscopy when the doctor sees the large mucosal folds protruding into the stomach cavity. The endoscopy also allows taking a sample of stomach mucosa for histological examination and for evaluation of presence of Helicobacter pylori. Patient’s blood tests usually show decreased level of blood proteins.
The disease is virtually impossible to treat. If there is evidence of Helicobacter pylori presence, we can eradicate the microorganism with antibiotics, but no significant effect can be expected. Patients with a less severe manifestation should have diet with a high protein intake to compensate the losses and they should be regularly monitored by the upper GI endoscopy. More severe forms of the diseases are treated by surgical removal of the stomach.
In the near future, the disease will be possibly treated by biological therapy, which will in this case consist of administration of a substance suppressing the growth factors contributing to proliferation of gastric mucosa.