Advancing treatment against rare pancreatic tumors.
Improved detection and new treatment options increase survival and improve quality of life.
Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors are rare and unique.
Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (pNETs) form in specific hormone-producing cells within the pancreas. They are difficult to detect, especially in early stages, and often are found while looking for other issues. Improved detection has led to a large increase in pNET diagnoses, but they are still much less common than adenocarcinoma of the pancreas.
Advanced treatments add more options for treating pNETs.
Because it can often be successfully treated, a full range of options will be considered.
Peptide receptor radionuclide radiotherapy (PRRT)
Targets cancer cells with a small amount of radioactive substance. Injected intravenously, the medication sticks to the tumor cells, delivers radiation directly and causes them to die.
Procedures include removing the tail (distal pancreatectomy) or head (Whipple procedure) of the pancreas.
Medications attack cancer cell vulnerabilities.
Energy waves heat and kill cancer cells.
Hepatic artery embolization
Blocks blood flow to tumor cells.
Uses chemicals to kill cancer cells.
pNETs have a higher survival rate — especially if caught early.
5 year survival rate for pNETs differs significantly from that of more common pancreatic adenocarcinoma as their prognosis is much better, and improves when it is detected and treated in earlier stages.
- 9% — Pancreatic Adenocarcinoma (all stages combined)
- 52% — pNETs (all stages combined)
- 67% — pNETs (regional stage – large tumors or tumors involving lymph nodes)
- 83% — pNETs (localized stage – tumors limited to the pancreas)
Better detection means more tumors found and more people treated.
One challenge of diagnosing pNETs is often there are no symptoms, or symptoms often mimic other gastrointestinal issues. But with advanced blood and imaging tests and specialized doctors who know what to look for, more tumors can be detected earlier now than in years past.