locally advanced Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors

Locally Advanced Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors: An Overview

Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PNETs) are a type of rare cancer that affects the cells of the endocrine system. These tumors can form in any part of the pancreas, but they are most often found in the head and neck area. According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 5-10% of all pancreatic tumors are neuroendocrine tumors. PNETs often grow slowly, but they can be fatal if they spread to other parts of the body, making early diagnosis and treatment essential. Locally advanced PNETs are tumors that have grown beyond the pancreas and have spread to nearby organs and tissues.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Locally Advanced PNETs

Diagnosing locally advanced PNETs oftentimes involves imaging tests, such as CT or MRI scans, to look for signs of the tumor. Once a diagnosis is made, the doctor will discuss available treatment options with the patient. Treatment options vary, but may include a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and targeted therapy.

Surgery for Locally Advanced PNETs

Surgery is one of the primary treatments for locally advanced PNETs. Depending on the size and location of the tumor, the surgeon may not be able to remove it completely. However, the surgeon may be able to reduce the size of the tumor, which can improve symptoms and reduce the risk of the tumor spreading. If the tumor has already spread, the surgeon will focus on improving quality of life.

Radiation Therapy for Locally Advanced PNETs

Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Radiation is sometimes used in addition to surgery to help stop the tumor from growing and prevent the cancer from spreading. It may also be used to shrink the tumor before surgery or if the patient is not a candidate for surgery. Radiotherapy may cause side effects, such as fatigue, nausea, and hair loss.

Chemotherapy and Targeted Therapy

Chemotherapy and targeted therapy are sometimes used to treat locally advanced PNETs. Chemotherapy drugs can slow the growth of the tumor or shrink it completely. Targeted therapy is used to stop the growth of cancer cells. It works by blocking the signals that allow the cells to grow and divide. Common side effects of chemotherapy and targeted therapies may include fatigue, nausea, and hair loss.

What Are the Risk Factors for Locally Advanced PNETs?

The exact cause of PNETs is not known, but some risk factors have been identified. These include:

  • Being over 50 years of age
  • Having a family history of pancreatic cancer
  • Having a history of smoking
  • Having certain genetic mutations
  • Being of African-American or Hispanic/Latino ethnicity.