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Islet Cell Tumors (Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors)

A tumor that forms in islet cells (hormone-making cells) of the pancreas. Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors may be benign (not cancer) or malignant (cancer).

PubMed Health Glossary
(Source: NIH - National Cancer Institute)

About Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors (Islet Cell Tumors)

Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors form in hormone-making cells (islet cells) of the pancreas.

The pancreas is a gland about 6 inches long that is shaped like a thin pear lying on its side. The wider end of the pancreas is called the head, the middle section is called the body, and the narrow end is called the tail. The pancreas lies behind the stomach and in front of the spine.

There are two kinds of cells in the pancreas:

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What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Drug Class Review: Newer Diabetes Medications, TZDs, and Combinations: Final Original Report [Internet]

To compare the effectiveness and adverse event profiles of amylin agonists, DPP-4 inhibitors, incretin mimetics, TZDs, and certain combination products for people with type 2 diabetes and for people with type 1 diabetes for pramlintide only.

Oral Diabetes Medications for Adults With Type 2 Diabetes: An Update [Internet]

Given the number of medications available for type 2 diabetes mellitus, clinicians and patients need information about their effectiveness and safety to make informed choices. The objective of this review was to summarize the benefits and harms of medications (metformin, second-generation sulfonylureas, thiazolidinediones, meglitinides, dipeptidyl peptidase-4 [DPP-4] inhibitors, and glucagon-like peptide-1 [GLP-1] receptor agonists), as monotherapy and in combination, for the treatment of adults with type 2 diabetes.

Suspected Cancer: Recognition and Referral

Cancer is an important condition, both in terms of the number of people affected and the impacts on those people and the people close to them. Around one third of a million new cancers are diagnosed annually in the UK, across over 200 different cancer types. Each of these cancer types has different presenting features, though there may be overlap. More than one third of the population will develop a cancer in their lifetime. Although there have been large advances in treatment and survival, with a half of cancer sufferers now living at least ten years after diagnosis, it remains the case that more than a quarter of all people alive now will die of cancer.

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Summaries for consumers

Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors (Islet Cell Tumors) Treatment (PDQ®): Patient Version

Expert-reviewed information summary about the treatment of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (islet cell tumors).

Gastrointestinal Carcinoid Tumors Treatment (PDQ®): Patient Version

Expert-reviewed information summary about the treatment of gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors.

Pancreatic Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Patient Version

Expert-reviewed information summary about the treatment of pancreatic cancer.

Terms to know

Endocrine Glands
A group of specialized cells that release hormones into the blood. For example, the islets in the pancreas, which secrete insulin, are endocrine glands.
Gastrinoma
A tumor that causes overproduction of gastric acid.
Hormones
A messenger molecule that helps coordinate the actions of various tissues; made in one part of the body and transported, via the bloodstream, to tissues and organs elsewhere in the body.
Insulin
A hormone that helps the body use glucose for energy. The beta cells of the pancreas make insulin. When the body cannot make enough insulin, insulin is taken by injection or other means.
Neuroendocrine Cells
Cells that release hormones into the blood in response to stimulation of the nervous system.
Pancreas
An organ that makes insulin and enzymes for digestion. The pancreas is located behind the lower part of the stomach and is about the size of a hand.
Tumor (Neoplasm)
An abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Neoplasms may be benign (not cancer), or malignant (cancer). Also called tumor.

More about Islet Cell Tumors

Photo of an adult

Also called: Islet cell tumours, Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours, Pancreatic endocrine tumours, Tumours of the endocrine pancreas, Pancreatic endocrine tumors, Neoplasms of the islets of Langerhans, Islet cell neoplasms, Tumors of the endocrine pancreas, Islet cell carcinoma, Pancreatic endocrine cancer, Pancreatic NETs

Other terms to know: See all 7
Endocrine Glands, Gastrinoma, Hormones

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