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Overview of Pancreatic Endocrine Tumors


Minhhuyen Nguyen

, MD, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Temple University

Last full review/revision Mar 2021| Content last modified Mar 2021
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The pancreas Pancreas The pancreas is an organ that contains two types of glandular tissue: Pancreatic acini Islets of Langerhans (See also Overview of the Digestive System.) The acini produce digestive enzymes.... read more Pancreas is an organ located in the upper part of the abdomen. It produces digestive juices that are secreted into the digestive tract. The pancreas also produces insulin, which helps control blood sugar, and other hormones Endocrine Function The main function of endocrine glands is to secrete hormones directly into the bloodstream. Hormones are chemical substances that affect the activity of another part of the body (target site)... read more . Pancreatic endocrine tumors are tumors that arise from the types of pancreatic cells that produce hormones. These tumors may or may not secrete hormones themselves and may or may not be cancerous (malignant). There are two types of tumors:

  • Functioning

  • Nonfunctioning

Nonfunctioning tumors do not secrete hormones and are not cancerous. These tumors may cause symptoms by blocking the biliary tract or small intestine, by bleeding into the gastrointestinal tract, or by causing a mass in the abdomen.

Functioning tumors secrete large amounts of a particular hormone, causing various syndromes. Some functioning tumors are cancerous. The hormones that may be secreted and their tumor type include

Treatment of Pancreatic Endocrine Tumors

  • Surgery

  • Drugs that block hormone effects

  • Sometimes chemotherapy

The treatment for both types of tumors is surgery.

People who are not candidates for surgery receive treatments that block the production or actions of hormones (such as octreotide) or are sometimes given chemotherapy.

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