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Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors (Islet Cell Tumors) Treatment

General Information About Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors (Islet Cell Tumors)

 

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Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors form in hormone-making cells (islet cells) of the pancreas.

The pancreas is a gland about 6 inches long that is shaped like a thin pear lying on its side. The wider end of the pancreas is called the head, the middle section is called the body, and the narrow end is called the tail. The pancreas lies behind the stomach and in front of the spine. Anatomy of the pancreas. The pancreas has three areas: head, body, and tail. It is found in the abdomen near the stomach, intestines, and other organs.
Anatomy of the pancreas. The pancreas has three areas: head, body, and tail. It is found in the abdomen near the stomach, intestines, and other organs.

Anatomy of the pancreas. The pancreas has three areas: head, body, and tail. It is found in the abdomen near the stomach, intestines, and other organs.

There are two kinds of cells in the pancreas:

A pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor (NET) may also be called a pancreatic endocrine tumor (PET), islet cell tumor, islet cell carcinoma, or pancreatic carcinoid.

Pancreatic NETs are much less common than pancreatic exocrine tumors and have a better prognosis.

Pancreatic NETs may or may not cause symptoms.

Pancreatic NETs may be functional (the hormones that are released cause symptoms) or nonfunctional (the hormones that are released do not cause symptoms) tumors:

Most pancreatic NETs are functional tumors.

There are different kinds of functional pancreatic NETs.

Pancreatic NETs make different kinds of hormones such as gastrin, insulin, and glucagon. Functional pancreatic NETs include the following:

Having certain syndromes can increase the risk of pancreatic NETs.

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn't mean that you will not get cancer. People who think they may be at risk should discuss this with their doctor.

Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) syndrome is a risk factor for pancreatic NETs.

Different types of pancreatic NETs have different signs and symptoms.

Symptoms can be caused by the growth of the tumor and/or by hormones the tumor makes. Some tumors may not cause symptoms. Conditions other than pancreatic NETs can cause the symptoms listed below. Talk to your doctor if any of these problems occur.

Signs and symptoms of a non-functional pancreatic NET

A non-functional pancreatic NET may grow for a long time without causing symptoms. It may grow large or spread to other parts of the body before it causes symptoms, such as:

Signs and symptoms of a functional pancreatic NET

The symptoms of a functional pancreatic NET depend on the type of hormone being made.

Too much gastrin may cause:

Too much insulin may cause:

Too much glucagon may cause:

Too much vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) may cause:

Too much somatostatin may cause:

Lab tests and imaging tests are used to detect (find) and diagnose pancreatic NETs.

The following tests and procedures may be used:

Other kinds of lab tests are used to check for the specific type of pancreatic NETs.

The following tests and procedures may be used:

Gastrinoma

Insulinoma

Glucagonoma

Other tumor types

Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.

Pancreatic NETs can often be cured. The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following: