Islet cell cancer care at Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic doctors have experience diagnosing and treating islet cell cancers, which are very rare. They use this experience to develop a personalized treatment plan that provides you with exactly the care you need.

Diagnosis at Mayo Clinic

Tests and procedures used to diagnose islet cell cancer include:

  • Blood tests. Blood tests may reveal excess hormones or other signs of an islet cell cancer.
  • Urine tests. Analysis of your urine may reveal breakdown products that result when your body processes hormones.
  • Imaging tests. Imaging tests help your doctor look for abnormalities in your pancreas, such as islet cell cancer.

    Imaging tests may include ultrasound, computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and somatostatin receptor scintigraphy, which uses a radioactive hormone that is taken up by islet cell cancers.

  • Endoscopy. During endoscopy, a thin tube with a camera on the end is passed down your throat and into your stomach and small intestine. Special tools can be passed through the tube to collect a tissue sample (biopsy).

    Endoscopy can be combined with imaging tests, such as ultrasound (endoscopic ultrasound) and X-ray (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography).

  • Surgery. In some cases, your doctor may recommend minimally invasive surgery to obtain a tissue sample for testing. During laparoscopy, the surgeon makes several small incisions in your abdomen, through which special tools and a tiny camera are inserted. The surgeon then looks for signs of cancer and may collect a tissue sample.
  • Biopsy. If cancer has spread to your liver, lymph nodes or other locations, a needle may be used to collect cells for analysis.

Treatment at Mayo Clinic

Treatment for islet cell cancer varies based on the types of cells involved in your cancer, the extent of your cancer, your preferences and your overall health. Options may include:

  • Surgery. If islet cell cancer is confined to the pancreas, treatment usually includes surgery. For cancer that occurs in the tail of the pancreas, surgery may involve removing the tail of the pancreas (distal pancreatectomy), leaving the head portion intact. Cancer that affects the head of the pancreas may require a Whipple procedure (pancreatoduodenectomy), which involves removing the cancer and part or most of your pancreas.
  • Targeted therapy. Targeted therapy uses medications that are specially designed to target certain cancer cells. Targeted therapy is used to treat certain advanced or recurrent islet cell cancers. Targeted therapy is a type of biological therapy for cancer.
  • Radiofrequency ablation. Radiofrequency ablation involves applying energy waves to cancer cells, causing them to heat up and die.
  • Treatment for cancer that spreads to the liver. Islet cell cancer most often spreads to the liver and several treatments exist for this. Options include treatment to block blood flow to liver tumors (hepatic artery occlusion), treatment to deliver chemotherapy directly to the liver (chemoembolization), treatment to deliver radiation directly to the liver (radioembolization) and liver transplant.
  • Chemotherapy. In certain situations, your doctor may recommend chemotherapy.

Expertise and rankings

Mayo Clinic doctors are widely respected for their experience diagnosing and treating rare conditions, including islet cell cancers.

Your Mayo Clinic care team

At Mayo Clinic, you'll receive coordinated care from a team of doctors and health care professionals. Mayo Clinic doctors work together to provide you with the best care possible for islet cell cancer, tailored to your needs.

Advanced diagnosis and treatment

Mayo Clinic doctors have access to the newest technology and treatments to improve chances for positive outcomes.

Mayo Clinic experts will work with you to review all of your treatment options and choose the treatment that best suits your needs and goals. The range of treatments offered to people with islet cell cancer includes surgery, targeted therapy and radiofrequency ablation.

Nationally recognized expertise

Mayo Clinic Cancer Center meets strict standards for a National Cancer Institute comprehensive cancer center, which recognizes scientific excellence and a multidisciplinary approach to cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and Mayo Clinic in Phoenix/Scottsdale, Ariz., are ranked among the Best Hospitals for cancer by U.S. News & World Report. Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., is ranked highly performing for cancer by U.S. News & World Report.

Locations, travel and lodging

Mayo Clinic has major campuses in Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona; Jacksonville, Florida; and Rochester, Minnesota. The Mayo Clinic Health System has dozens of locations in several states.

For more information on visiting Mayo Clinic, choose your location below:

Costs and insurance

Mayo Clinic works with hundreds of insurance companies and is an in-network provider for millions of people.

In most cases, Mayo Clinic doesn't require a physician referral. Some insurers require referrals, or may have additional requirements for certain medical care. All appointments are prioritized on the basis of medical need.

Learn more about appointments at Mayo Clinic.

Please contact your insurance company to verify medical coverage and to obtain any needed authorization prior to your visit. Often, your insurer's customer service number is printed on the back of your insurance card.

More information about billing and insurance:

Mayo Clinic in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota

Mayo Clinic Health System

Aug. 23, 2017


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