Shedding light on pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors
January 2, 2020
NETs are rare and complex. Because their behavior can be difficult to predict, it is important for patients to be seen by an experienced team of doctors for diagnosis and treatment. The NETs care team at University of Chicago Medicine includes experts across many specialties.
They work together to accurately diagnose neuroendocrine tumors, and to determine the most effective treatment for each patient. At UChicago Medicine, treatment for NETs often includes surgery, even for tumors that have spread to other organs.
Our surgeons are some of the most experienced in the country at treating NETs, and to use unique state of the art techniques to destroy and remove tumors. In addition, we were one of the first centers in the country to offer a promising treatment called Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy, or PRRT.
PRRT combines a targeting molecule that binds to specific receptors on tumor cells and a radioactive particle that destroys cancer cells. PRRT is given to patients through an IV infusion, and has fewer side effects than other chemotherapies. A course of treatment typically includes four doses given eight weeks apart.
At UChicago Medicine, our researchers are working to find the underlying cause of these tumors, and to bring new treatments, including innovative clinical trials, for the most challenging cases. Want to learn more about treatment and the newest clinical trials for neuroendocrine tumors? UChicago Medicine is here to help. Visit UChicagoMedicine.org/nets.
To learn more about pNETs and how they differ from other types of pancreatic cancer, we spoke with Xavier Keutgen, MD, the director of University of Chicago Neuroendocrine Tumor Program and one of the few surgeons in the country with advanced expertise in extensive removal of neuroendocrine tumors. Keutgen is also a lead investigator on several clinical trials focusing on new diagnostic and therapeutic methods for endocrine and neuroendocrine tumors.
For example, if the tumor has spread to the liver, we can remove the primary tumor from the pancreas, while also taking out all or almost all of the disease in the liver with very specialized techniques to prevent harm to the remaining sections of healthy liver. This is called parenchymal-sparing resection, which allows us to take out parts of the tumor carefully, one-by-one. The deeper tumors can be burned with microwave ablation. With this technique, we can resect 30, 40 or sometimes up to 50 lesions out of the liver without damaging liver function.
Xavier M. Keutgen, MD, FACS
Xavier M. Keutgen, MD, is a surgical oncologist with particular expertise in treating neuroendocrine, thyroid, parathyroid and adrenal tumors. Dr. Keutgen is the director of the UChicago Medicine Neuroendocrine Tumor Center and works closely with multidisciplinary team that specializes in NETs.Read Dr. Keutgen's physician profile.