Morphological and functional investigations of neuroendocrine tumors of the pancreas

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Abstract.Neuroendocrine tumors of the pancreas are rare neoplasms arising predominantly from the pancreatic islets of Langerhans and are thus known as islet cell tumors. More than the half of all neuroendocrine tumors are called functioning islet cell tumors because they secrete one or more biologically active peptides that may produce clinical symptoms. Clinical diagnosis of non-functioning, i.e., biologically inactive, tumors is often delayed and patients tend to present with advanced tumors (size greater than 5 cm) that are easily localized by using conventional imaging modalities. On the other hand, symptoms of functioning islet cell tumors usually appear early in the clinical course, rendering the preoperative localization of these small hormone-producing tumors (size less than 2 cm) difficult with non-invasive methods. Since functioning islet cell tumors can often be cured by surgical resection, invasive procedures are warranted when necessary for localization diagnosis. Failure to search for, detect, and resect these small tumors will invariably result in persistent symptoms. Regarding the unsatisfactory results of morphological imaging methods, functional studies, especially arterial stimulation with hepatic venous samplings, may provide a preoperative regionalization of the pancreatic adenoma, regardless of its size.

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