Current advances in the diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic endocrine tumors

Curr Opin Oncol. 2005 Jan;17(1):24-7. doi: 10.1097/01.cco.0000147902.50442.28.


Purpose of review: A comprehensive literature review of more than 200 original manuscripts published in the last 18 months was conducted to summarize landmark studies performed on the molecular biology, diagnosis, imaging, and treatment of endocrine tumors of the pancreas.

Recent findings: Recent achievements occurred on many fronts. Identification of a novel insulin splice variant with increased translation efficiency moved forward the understanding of the molecular biology of insulinomas. Results of a 29-year prospective study from the National Institutes of Health clarified the epidemiology of multiple endocrine neoplasia-1 syndrome. Chromogranin A was identified as a promising marker for pancreatic endocrine tumors. New imaging, including F-dopa positron emission tomography and laparoscopic ultrasound, and the effective combination of existing modalities localized and staged tumors with greater accuracy. Nonoperative treatment strategies show promise; discovery of the antiangiogenic properties of octreotide and the overexpression of tyrosine kinase receptors such as c-kit, epidermal growth factor receptor, and platelet-derived growth factor receptor on malignant endocrine pancreatic tumors may lead to promising pharmacologic treatment.

Summary: There have been exciting recent advancements in research surrounding endocrine pancreas that hopefully will pave the way for potential improvement in clinical outcomes for patients with these tumors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood
  • Chromogranin A
  • Chromogranins / blood
  • Gastrinoma / diagnosis*
  • Gastrinoma / drug therapy*
  • Gastrinoma / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Insulinoma / diagnosis*
  • Insulinoma / drug therapy*
  • Insulinoma / physiopathology
  • Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 1 / epidemiology
  • Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 1 / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / physiopathology


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Chromogranin A
  • Chromogranins