Aggressive surgical resection in the management of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors: when is it indicated?

Cancer Control. 2008 Oct;15(4):314-21. doi: 10.1177/107327480801500406.


Background: Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PNETs) comprise a heterogeneous group of neoplasms for which treatment is variable, depending on the clinical stage. Despite this diversity, surgery remains the gold standard in the management of PNETs. This paper discusses whether aggressive surgical intervention is indicated for PNETs and investigates what prognostic factors may assist in predicting which patients with invasive disease will benefit most from surgical intervention.

Methods: A review was conducted of large surgical series reported in the English literature over the last 10 years as they pertain to current surgical intervention in PNETs and of prognostic factors related to surgical outcome and survival.

Results: Improved survival can be achieved with aggressive surgical management of PNETs. The presence of hepatic metastases is not a contraindication to surgical resection of the primary PNET. Results of series that reported prognostic factors are heterogeneous.

Conclusions: Aggressive surgical resection for selected individuals with PNETs can be performed safely and may improve both symptomatic disease and overall survival. Consideration for resection of primary PNETs should be given to patients with treatable hepatic metastases. Prognostic indices such as tumor differentiation and ability to achieve R0/R1 resection have been linked to survival outcome in PNETs and should be considered when planning aggressive surgical management for this disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making
  • Humans
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / mortality
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / pathology
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors / surgery*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / mortality
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Prognosis