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Pancreatic Cancer Health Center

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Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors (Islet Cell Tumors) Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Recurrent and Progressive Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors

There is no established therapy for pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors that recur or progress after prior therapy.[1] Deciding on further treatment depends on many factors, including:

  • The specific cancer.
  • Prior treatment.
  • Site of recurrence.
  • Individual patient considerations.

Attempts at re-resection of local tumors that have recurred or metastatic lesions may offer palliation, when technically feasible. Intra-arterial chemotherapy is a consideration for patients with liver metastases. Patients with hepatic-dominant disease and substantial symptoms caused by tumor bulk or hormone-release syndromes may benefit from continuous-infusion intra-arterial chemotherapy or procedures that reduce hepatic arterial blood flow to metastases (hepatic arterial occlusion with embolization or with chemoembolization).[2,3,4,5,6,7] Such treatment may also be combined with systemic chemotherapy. A variety of systemic agents have shown biologic or palliative activity,[1,8] including:

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  • Somatostatin analogs.
  • Radiolabeled somatostatin analogs.[9,10,11]
  • Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (e.g., sunitinib).
  • Temozolomide.
  • Vascular endothelial growth factor pathway inhibitors.
  • Mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitors (e.g., everolimus).

Current Clinical Trials

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with recurrent islet cell carcinoma. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.

General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.


  1. Kulke MH, Siu LL, Tepper JE, et al.: Future directions in the treatment of neuroendocrine tumors: consensus report of the National Cancer Institute Neuroendocrine Tumor clinical trials planning meeting. J Clin Oncol 29 (7): 934-43, 2011.
  2. Gupta S, Johnson MM, Murthy R, et al.: Hepatic arterial embolization and chemoembolization for the treatment of patients with metastatic neuroendocrine tumors: variables affecting response rates and survival. Cancer 104 (8): 1590-602, 2005.
  3. Kennedy AS, Dezarn WA, McNeillie P, et al.: Radioembolization for unresectable neuroendocrine hepatic metastases using resin 90Y-microspheres: early results in 148 patients. Am J Clin Oncol 31 (3): 271-9, 2008.
  4. King J, Quinn R, Glenn DM, et al.: Radioembolization with selective internal radiation microspheres for neuroendocrine liver metastases. Cancer 113 (5): 921-9, 2008.
  5. Siperstein AE, Berber E: Cryoablation, percutaneous alcohol injection, and radiofrequency ablation for treatment of neuroendocrine liver metastases. World J Surg 25 (6): 693-6, 2001.
  6. Gurusamy KS, Ramamoorthy R, Sharma D, et al.: Liver resection versus other treatments for neuroendocrine tumours in patients with resectable liver metastases. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (2): CD007060, 2009.
  7. Gurusamy KS, Pamecha V, Sharma D, et al.: Palliative cytoreductive surgery versus other palliative treatments in patients with unresectable liver metastases from gastro-entero-pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours. Cochrane Database Syst Rev (1): CD007118, 2009.
  8. Yao JC, Lombard-Bohas C, Baudin E, et al.: Daily oral everolimus activity in patients with metastatic pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors after failure of cytotoxic chemotherapy: a phase II trial. J Clin Oncol 28 (1): 69-76, 2010.
  9. Teunissen JJ, Kwekkeboom DJ, de Jong M, et al.: Endocrine tumours of the gastrointestinal tract. Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy. Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol 19 (4): 595-616, 2005.
  10. Kwekkeboom DJ, de Herder WW, Kam BL, et al.: Treatment with the radiolabeled somatostatin analog [177 Lu-DOTA 0,Tyr3]octreotate: toxicity, efficacy, and survival. J Clin Oncol 26 (13): 2124-30, 2008.
  11. Bushnell DL Jr, O'Dorisio TM, O'Dorisio MS, et al.: 90Y-edotreotide for metastatic carcinoid refractory to octreotide. J Clin Oncol 28 (10): 1652-9, 2010.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

    Last Updated: May 28, 2015
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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