Your treatment team will diagnose the type and stage of islet cell cancer and collaborate to plan the most effective treatment for you. Treatment options for islet cell cancer depend on many factors, including the tumor's type, size and stage.
- Surgery. When the cancer has not spread beyond the pancreas, the treatment team generally performs surgery. Surgery also may be considered to relieve symptoms and prolong life. For some people, surgery may involve removing the tail of the pancreas, leaving the main portion intact (distal pancreatectomy). Other people may benefit from the Whipple procedure, which involves removing the cancer and part or most of your pancreas.
- Biological therapy. Biological therapy may help your immune system fight cancer. Doctors use two forms of drug treatment for islet cell cancer to reduce tumor size.
- Radiofrequency ablation. Radiofrequency ablation uses radio waves to heat and kill abnormal cells. The radiologist uses ultrasound or CT scan to guide a probe through the skin and directly into the tumor. Sometimes radiofrequency ablation is done during surgery.
If the islet cell cancer has spread to your liver, one or more of the following treatments may be recommended:
- Radioembolization. In radioembolization, specialists inject radioactive glass microbeads through branches of the major artery supplying blood to the liver (hepatic artery). The microscopic beads lodge in small blood capillaries in the cancer and deliver radiation internally.
- Chemoembolization. Chemoembolization involves blocking the blood supply to the tumor and injecting potent chemotherapy directly into the tumor.
- Hepatic arterial occlusion. Hepatic arterial occlusion or embolization works by reducing or blocking blood flow to the liver to kill islet cell tumors there.
- Liver transplantation. A liver transplant may be an option for people whose cancer has not spread beyond the liver.