Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumor (Pancreatic NETs)
Expert treatment for pancreatic NETs in San Diego
Expert treatment for pancreatic NETs in San Diego
Scripps MD Anderson Cancer Center cancer specialists treat pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors using the most advanced methods. Many of these tumors are treated with surgery, and U.S. News & World Report ranked Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla and Scripps Green Hospital among the best in the nation for gastroenterology and gastrointestinal surgery.
Our cancer teams personalize treatment to eliminate cancer while maintaining your quality of life. In addition, our multidisciplinary, collaborative board of cancer specialists reviews complex care plans to ensure patients receive the best possible care from diagnosis to recovery.
Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor treatment
Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (also called Islet cell tumors, Islet of Langerhans tumors or pancreatic NETs) are uncommon tumors that form in the islet cells of the pancreas. The tumors can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (neuroendocrine cancer). These tumors can look alike under a microscope, and it may not be possible to tell if a tumor is cancer until it has begun to spread.
Treatment for pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors may involve surgery, ablation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy or a combination of these. Your Scripps MD Anderson cancer care team will customize your pancreatic NET treatment plan based on several factors, including:
- Whether the tumor can be completely removed with surgery
- Whether cancer has spread
- Your age and overall health
Pancreatic NET treatment options at Scripps MD Anderson
Depending on the size of the tumor, surgery may be the only treatment needed. Whenever possible, Scripps surgeons use minimally invasive surgical techniques, which can mean smaller incisions, faster recovery time and less bleeding and scarring. Surgical procedures for treating pancreatic NETs may include:
- Enucleation for small tumors that are confined to one place in the pancreas and may be removed completely with surgery
- Pancreatoduodenectomy (also known as the Whipple procedure) to remove the head of the pancreas, the gallbladder, nearby lymph nodes and part of the stomach, small intestine and bile duct
- Distal pancreatectomy to remove the body and tail of the pancreas, and possibly the spleen
- Parietal cell vagotomy to cut the vagus nerve to reduce the secretion of acid to the stomach, which can be a contributing factor in pancreatic NETs
- Total gastrectomy to remove the entire stomach if cancer has spread to the stomach
- Liver resection to remove part or all of the liver if cancer has spread to the liver
Ablation treats pancreatic NETs by destroying them using cold, heat or other methods.
- Radiofrequency ablation uses a probe and electrodes to eliminate cancer cells. The probe may be inserted directly through the skin of the abdomen or through an incision.
- Cryosurgical ablation (also known as cryoablation) uses liquid nitrogen or liquid carbon dioxide to freeze and eliminate abnormal cells. It may be done during traditional or minimally invasive surgery.
Chemotherapy drugs can be used alone or in combination with other treatments to slow the growth of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors.
Hormone therapy may be part of a treatment plan to remove or block hormones and stop cancer cells from growing.
Pancreatic NET treatment locations
Scripps MD Anderson diagnoses and treats pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors at numerous locations throughout San Diego County. From Chula Vista and La Jolla to Encinitas and beyond, our extensive network of Southern California cancer care centers includes:
- Four Scripps hospitals on five campuses
- Outpatient clinics
- Specialty cancer treatment centers
For details on specific centers and their services, visit cancer care locations.
Support groups, services and resources
As leaders in cancer care, we know what it takes to fight a winning battle. That’s why we equip our patients with the support and resources necessary to achieve their best possible outcome. From connecting you with support groups and services to empowering you with the latest resources and research, Scripps MD Anderson helps you along every step of your cancer journey.
Support groups for patients, family members and survivors
In support of our patients, survivors, their family members and the community, we host a handful of cancer support groups as well as a range of free workshops and health and wellness events on a number of topics, such as:
- Expressive writing
Check the current list of support offerings or contact your oncology social worker or cancer care coordinator.
For info about other cancer support groups in the San Diego community, call the American Cancer Society at 800-227-2345.
Support services for cancer patients
We are here for you — not only as your oncologists, but as a robust multidisciplinary team of experts who understands that your cancer journey is about much more than your medical treatment. Specifically, Scripps MD Anderson offers a variety of patient support services to ensure your physical, psychological and emotional well-being as well as resources for dealing with the logistical and financial aspects of cancer care. Our services and resources include:
- Oncology nurses and nurse navigators with extensive clinical expertise in cancer care to help guide you and your caregivers to make informed decisions and ensure your optimal care.
- Palliative care to provide an extra layer of supportive care to manage pain and relieve symptoms, offer emotional and spiritual support, and improve your quality of life.
- Oncology social workers specially trained to provide counseling, connect you with community and medical resources, assist with transportation and housing and coordinate care after discharge.
- Our registered dietitian nutritionists offer individualized nutrition support for patients whose efforts to optimize their nutrition may be affected by cancer symptoms or treatment side effects.
- Referrals and professional care from experts in psychology, psychiatry and emotional health, including individual and family counseling to help with the emotional challenges of cancer.
- Physical rehabilitation and occupational therapy services, including wound care, voice therapy and swallowing therapy, lymphedema therapy, balance and vestibular rehabilitation, yoga and more.
- Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine for patients interested in mind-body healing through acupuncture, biofeedback, herbal nutrition, massage therapy, integrative cancer care and more.
- Nondenominational spiritual care offered by our chaplains to help coordinate spiritual care with your own clergy, rabbi or spiritual advisor.
- Visiting patient services if you reside beyond San Diego and want help arranging appointments or learning more about short-term lodging.
For the full spectrum of offerings, please visit our cancer patient support services section.