Neuroendocrine Tumors of the Pancreas
My doctor told me I have a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor (PNET). Does this mean I have pancreatic cancer?
Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PNETs) are uncommon tumors that arise from the islet cells of the pancreas. These tumors are different from pancreatic adenocarcinoma which arises from the ductal cells of the pancreas and is much more common. In general, PNETs tend to be slow growing have a much better prognosis than pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Often it is difficult to tell if a PNET is benign or malignant even after surgical removal.
I have a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor (PNET). Does that mean I need a Whipple procedure?
Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PNETs) are uncommon tumors that differ from the more commonly seen pancreatic adenocarcinoma. PNETs tend to be slow growing and less likely to be a malignant, so often we remove them with a minimally invasive surgery called a laparoscopic enucleation. Some PNETs do require formal pancreatic resection. The decision on which operation you need depends on many factors including the type of tumor, its location in the pancreas and how close it sits to important structures such as the pancreatic duct.
I have a non-functional neuroendocrine tumor of the pancreas. What does that mean?
Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PNETs) are frequently divided into two groups. Those that produce hormones that cause symptoms (such as insulinomas, glucagonomas, VIPoms, etc.) are called functional PNETs and those that do not produce hormones that cause symptoms are called non-functional PNETs. About half of PNETs are non-functional. These are frequently found incidentally on abdominal imaging done for some other reason.