, Volume 17, Issue 12, pp 2105-2113
Date: 08 Oct 2013

Nonfunctional Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors <2 cm on Preoperative Imaging are Associated with a Low Incidence of Nodal Metastasis and an Excellent Overall Survival

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The optimal surgical management of small nonfunctional pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (NF-PNETs) remains controversial. We sought to identify (1) clinicopathologic factors associated with survival in NF-PNETs and (2) preoperative tumor characteristics that can be used to determine which lesions require resection and lymph node (LN) harvest.


The records of all 116 patients who underwent resection for NF-PNETs between 1989 and 2012 were reviewed retrospectively. Preoperative factors, operative data, pathology, surgical morbidity, and survival were analyzed.


The overall 5- and 10-year survival rates were 83.9 and 72.8 %, respectively. Negative LNs (p = 0.005), G1 or G2 histology (p = 0.033), and age <60 years (p = 0.002) correlated with better survival on multivariate analysis. The 10-year survival rate was 86.6 % for LN-negative patients (n = 73) and 34.1 % for LN-positive patients (n = 32). Tumor size ≥2 cm on preoperative imaging predicted nodal positivity with a sensitivity of 93.8 %. Positive LNs were found in 38.5 % of tumors ≥2 cm compared to only 7.4 % of tumors <2 cm.


LN status, a marker of systemic disease, was a highly significant predictor of survival in this series. Tumor size on preoperative imaging was predictive of nodal disease. Thus, it is reasonable to consider parenchyma-sparing resection or even close observation for NF-PNETs <2 cm.

This paper was presented at the Pancreas Club, 17 May 2013, Orlando, FL.