Pancreatic Islet Cell Tumor Treatment- Cancer/Oncology

What is a pancreatic islet cell tumour?

It is a tumour which develops in the pancreas from a type of cell called an islet cell. This tumour can be either malignant (cancerous) or benign (non-cancerous). This tumour is also known as islet of langerhans tumour, pancreatic endocrine tumour, and neuroendocrine tumour. It may or may not cause any signs or symptoms. This tumour can be diagnosed by various types of laboratory tests and imaging tests.

What are the treatment options?

If an islet cell tumour is benign, the treatment plan may only include medicines. The treatment options for cancerous pancreatic islet cell tumour include surgery, chemotherapy, hepatic arterial occlusion or chemoembolization, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy. A medical oncologist (doctor who treats tumours with chemotherapeutic drugs) will propose the line of treatment for the treatment of pancreatic islet cell tumour. A surgical oncologist (doctor who has specialized in operating on tumours) will perform surgery if required.

Surgery: It is the most common treatment for pancreatic islet cell tumours. The main goal of the surgery is to remove as much of the tumour as possible.  Depending on the type of the pancreatic islet cell tumour, a specific type of surgery is performed. Various types of surgeries include enucleation, pancreatoduodenectomy, distal pancreatectomy, parietal cell vagotomy, cryosurgical ablation etc.

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is required to decrease the size of the tumours if the cancerous cells have spread throughout the body. During chemotherapy, drugs are taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle and then the drugs enter the bloodstream and reach cancer cells throughout the body. Sometimes combination chemotherapy (the use of more than one anticancer drug) is also recommended.

Hepatic arterial occlusion or chemoembolization: Hepatic arterial occlusion uses small particles, drugs, or other agents to block or decrease the flow of blood to the liver from the hepatic artery. This kills cancer cells growing in the liver by preventing them from getting essential oxygen and nutrients.

Hormone therapy: Hormone therapy involves removal of hormones or blocks their action. This will help to prevent cancerous cells from growing.

Targeted therapy: This therapy uses medications or other substances to identify and attack specific cancerous cells without damaging normal healthy cells.

What to expect after the treatment?

Patient would be required to do regular follow-up and may be asked to repeat some tests as well.



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About the Author:

Dr. Anand Lakhkar is a physician scientist from India. He completed his basic medical education from India and his postgraduate training in pharmacology from the United States. He has a MS degree in pharmacology from New York Medical College, a MS degree in Cancer/Neuro Pharmacology from Georgetown University and a PhD in Pharmacology from New York Medical College where he was the recipient of the Graduate Faculty Council Award for academic and research excellence.  His research area of expertise is in pulmonary hypertension, traumatic brain injury and cardiovascular pharmacology.  He has multiple publications in international peer-reviewed journals and has presented his research at at prestigious conferences.