, Volume 28, Issue 12, pp 1248-1260
Date: 11 Nov 2004

Surgery of Resectable Nonfunctioning Neuroendocrine Pancreatic Tumors

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Abstract

Nonfunctioning neuroendocrine pancreatic tumors (NFNEPTs) comprise about one-third of pancreatic endocrine tumors. Based on immunohistochemistry, nonfunctioning tumors are difficult to distinguish from functioning ones; therefore the final diagnosis is basically the result of a synopsis of pathology and clinical data. Owing to their incapacity to produce hormone-dependent symptoms, NFNEPTs are detected incidentally or because of uncharacteristic symptoms resulting from local or distant growth. About two-thirds of NFNEPTs are located in the pancreatic head, so jaundice may be a late symptom of this tumor. Modern diagnostic procedures are best applied by a stepwise approach: first endoscopic ultrasonography and computed tomography/magnetic resonance imaging followed by somatostatin receptor scintigraphy or positron emission tomography (or both). Due to significant false-positive and false-negative findings, for decision-making the latter should be confirmed by a second imaging modality. Regarding indications for surgery and the surgical approach to the pancreas, three pancreatic manifestations of NFNEPTs can be distinguished: (1) solitary benign non-multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (non-MEN-1); (2) multiple benign MEN-1; and (3) malignant NFNEPTs. Reviewing the literature and including our experience with 18 NFNEPTs (8 benign, 10 malignant) reported here, the following conclusions can be drawn: (1) Solitary benign non-MEN-1 NFNEPTs can be removed by enucleation or by pancreas-, spleen-, and duodenum-preserving techniques in most cases. The choice of surgical technique depends on the location and site of the tumor and its anatomic relation to the pancreatic duct. (2) With multiple benign MEN-1 NFNEPTs, because of the characteristics of the underlying disease a preferred, more conservative concept (removal of only macrolesions) competes with a more radical procedure (left pancreatic resection with enucleation of head macrolesions). Further studies are necessary to clarify the best way to balance quality of life (by preserving organ function) with growth control of potentially malignant tumors in the pancreas. (3) Malignant NFNEPTs comprise more than half of all NFNEPTs. Few studies have analyzed treatment strategies for localized or metastatic tumors. Whereas radical (including multivisceral) resection of tumors without distant metastases is widely accepted, the indication for radical surgery on metastasizing tumors has been questioned, as radical removal of the primary tumor may fail to increase survival. Adjuvant regimens in these tumor stages are mandatory and should be further optimized.