Skip to content

    Cancer Health Center

    Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs)

    Font Size

    What Are Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs)?

    It's natural to feel a little overwhelmed when you get news that you have a disease called pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). If you're like most folks, it could be the first time you've heard of the condition. But if you take a little time now to tackle the topic, it will make it easier to work with your doctor on a plan of action to help you feel better and treat your tumors.

    Pancreatic NETs grow in your pancreas, a gland in your belly that has two big jobs. It makes juices to digest food, and it makes hormones, which are chemicals that control different actions in your body. NETs grow in the cells that make hormones.

    Recommended Related to Cancer


    This complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) information summary provides an overview of the use of cartilage as a treatment for people with cancer. The summary includes a brief history of cartilage research, the results of clinical studies, and possible side effects of cartilage use. This summary contains the following key information: Bovine (cow) cartilage and shark cartilage have been studied as treatments for people with cancer and other medical conditions for more than 30 years. ...

    Read the Overview article > >

    These tumors usually don't grow as fast as the more common kind of pancreatic cancer. Treatments can remove them, slow their growth, and make your symptoms better.

    Every situation is different, and how you get treated depends on what type of NET you have. There are two kinds: "functional" and "nonfunctional."

    Functional means the tumor makes its own hormones and causes symptoms. Nonfunctional tumors don't make hormones.

    Most nonfunctional NETs are cancerous, which means they can spread to other parts of your body. You may not have symptoms until your tumors get big or spread.

    Most neuroendocrine tumors are the functional kind. They can be cancerous, but they aren't always.

    Functional NETs get their names from the type of hormone they make. You may hear your doctor use these terms when he describes your condition:

    Insulinomas. They're the most common and they're rarely cancerous. They grow in the cells that make insulin. The extra insulin made by your tumor can lead to low blood sugar levels, which can make you feel "off" or pass out, or cause a seizure.

    Glucagonomas. They grow in the cells that make glucagon, a hormone that raises your blood sugar. They can cause high blood sugar levels, which can damage your nerves, eyes, heart, kidneys, and gums. About half are cancerous.

    VIPomas. These tumors grow in the cells that make vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), which helps control muscles and nerves in your stomach and intestine. This type of NET is rare. Most VIPomas are cancerous.

    Gastrinomas. They happen in people with a rare disorder called Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. These tumors grow in the cells that make gastrin, which controls stomach acid. About half are cancerous.

    Somatostatinomas. Most of these tumors are cancerous.Theygrow in cells that make somatostatin, a hormone that helps control the production of other hormones, including insulin and gastrin.

    1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Colorectal cancer cells
    New! I AM Not Cancer Facebook Group
    Lung cancer xray
    See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
    sauteed cherry tomatoes
    Fight cancer one plate at a time.
    Ovarian cancer illustration
    Real Cancer Perspectives
    Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
    what is your cancer risk
    colorectal cancer treatment advances
    breast cancer overview slideshow

    Take an Active Role in
    Your Cancer Treatment

    Who should not take SOMATULINE DEPOT?

    Do not take SOMATULINE DEPOT if you are allergic to lanreotide.

    What are the possible side effects of SOMATULINE DEPOT?

    SOMATULINE DEPOT may cause serious side effects, including:

    • Gallstones. Tell your healthcare professional if you get any of these symptoms:
      • sudden pain in your upper right stomach area (abdomen)
      • sudden pain in your right shoulder or between your shoulder blades
      • yellowing of your skin and whites of your eyes
      • fever with chills
      • nausea
    • Changes in your blood sugar (high blood sugar or low blood sugar). If you have diabetes, test your blood sugar as your healthcare professional tells you to. Your healthcare professional may change your dose of diabetes medicine.
    • Slow heart rate
    • High blood pressure

    The most common side effects of SOMATULINE DEPOT in people with GEP-NETs include stomach area (abdominal) pain, muscle and joint aches, vomiting, headache, and pain, itching, or a lump at the injection site.

    SOMATULINE DEPOT may cause dizziness. If this happens, do not drive a car or operate machinery.

    What should I tell my healthcare professional before receiving SOMATULINE DEPOT?
    • Tell your healthcare professional if you have diabetes or gallbladder, thyroid, heart, kidney, or liver problems.
    • Tell your healthcare professional if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant as SOMATULINE DEPOT may harm your unborn baby. Tell your healthcare professional if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if SOMATULINE DEPOT passes into your breast milk. You and your healthcare professional should decide if you will take SOMATULINE DEPOT or breastfeed. You should not do both.
    • Tell your healthcare professional about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. SOMATULINE DEPOT and other medicines may affect each other, causing side effects. SOMATULINE DEPOT may affect the way other medicines work, and other medicines may affect how SOMATULINE DEPOT works.
    • Especially tell your healthcare professional if you take insulin or other diabetes medicines, a cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, or Sandimmune), a medicine called bromocriptine (Parlodel, Cycloset), or medicines that lower your heart rate, such as beta blockers.

    Tell your healthcare professional if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away. These are not all the possible side effects of SOMATULINE DEPOT. For more information ask your healthcare professional.

    You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or Ipsen Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. at 1-888-980-2889.

    Please click here for Patient Information and full
    Prescribing Information.

    Somatuline Depot is a registered trademark of Ipsen Pharma S.A.S.
    All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
    ©2015 Ipsen Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. November 2015. SMD-US-000105

    prostate cancer overview
    lung cancer overview slideshow
    ovarian cancer overview slideshow
    Actor Michael Douglas