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Pancreatic Islet Cell Cancer

A gastrinoma tumor produces large amounts of a hormone called gastrin, which causes the stomach to make too much acid. If there is too much stomach acid, ulcers may develop.
An insulinoma tumor makes too much insulin and causes the body to store sugar instead of burning it for energy. This will cause hypoglycemia, which is a condition in which there is too little sugar in the blood.
A glucagonoma tumor makes too much glucagon and causes hyperglycemia, which is a condition in which there is too much sugar in the blood.
Other types of islet cell cancer can affect the pancreas, the small intestine, or both. Each type of tumor may affect different hormones in the body and cause different symptoms.
Recurrent pancreatic islet cell cancer refers to cancer has come back (recurred) after it has been treated. The cancer may come back in the pancreas or in another part of the body.

Treating Pancreatic Islet Cell Cancer

Treatment of pancreatic islet cell cancer will depend on the type of tumor, the stage of the tumor, and the patient's overall health.
Treatments for pancreatic islet cell cancer include:
  • Surgery (taking out the cancer)
  • Chemotherapy (using drugs to kill cancer cells)
  • Hormone therapy (using hormones to stop cancer cells from growing).
Surgery is the most common treatment of islet cell cancer. The doctor may remove:
  • Most or part of the pancreas
  • The stomach (gastrectomy) if there are ulcers
  • Lymph nodes to see if they contain cancer.
Islet cell cancer chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be taken by pill or it may be put into a vein or muscle by a needle. Chemotherapy is called a systemic treatment because the drug enters the bloodstream, travels through the body, and kills cancer cells throughout the body.
Hormone therapy uses hormones to stop the cancer cells from growing or to relieve symptoms caused by the tumor. Hepatic arterial occlusion or embolization uses drugs or other agents to reduce or block the flow of blood to the liver in order to kill cancer cells growing in the liver.
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