Hope & Healing: The UF Health Blog

UF Health Cancer Physician Talks Rare Form of Pancreatic Cancer

3D illustration of a pancreasPancreatic neuroendocrine tumors accompany a rare form of pancreatic cancer that account for only 1-2% of all pancreatic tumors. I usually tell my patients that this is the type of pancreatic cancer that Steve Jobs had, unlike the more common pancreatic adenocarcinoma, which is the type of pancreatic cancer that actor Patrick Swayze had.

Some pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors can produce excess hormones that can lead to high or low blood sugar, acid reflux and indigestion or diarrhea. However most pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors do not, and are known as "non-functional". Almost half of these tumors are found "incidentally," meaning the patient had no symptoms, but was undergoing treatment for another condition or issue when it was found.

Patients diagnosed with these tumors require specialized and individualized care, because not all pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors need treatment. Some patients may require surgery, while others may require hormone treatment with specialized medications, and the rest can be closely monitored.

In rare cases, a pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor may require chemotherapy. Treatment depends on a variety of factors including the extent of the tumor, the aggressiveness and the burden on the patient’s quality of life.

At the University of Florida Health Cancer Center, we have a team of physicians, including myself, who specialize in the care of these patients. We offer Dotatate PET scans, which are specialized imaging tests for pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors, as well as treatment for all forms and stages of this disease. We are even able to offer the latest therapy in neuroendocrine tumors, known as Lutathera, which delivers short waves of radiation specifically to neuroendocrine tumor cells.

At UF Health, we take pride in providing our patients individualized, high quality and up-to-date cancer care.

About the Author

Brian Ramnaraign, M.D.'s picture

Brian Ramnaraign, M.D.

Brian Ramnaraign, M.D., is an assistant professor of medicine in the division of hematology and oncology at the University of Florida College of Medicine and a UF Health physician. He...Read More