Clinicopathological features of pancreatic endocrine tumors: a prospective multicenter study in Italy of 297 sporadic cases

Am J Gastroenterol. 2010 Jun;105(6):1421-9. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2009.747. Epub 2010 Jan 19.


Objectives: Information on pancreatic endocrine tumors (PETs) comes mostly from small, retrospective, uncontrolled studies conducted on highly selected patients. The aim of the study was to describe the clinical and pathological features of PETs in a prospective, multicenter study.

Methods: Newly diagnosed, histologically proven, sporadic PETs observed from June 2004 to March 2007 in 24 Italian centers were included in a specific data set.

Results: Two hundred ninety-seven patients (mean age 58.6+/-14.7 years, females 51.2%, males 48.8%) were analyzed. In 73 cases (24.6%), the tumor was functioning (F) (53 insulinomas, 15 gastrinomas, 5 other syndromes) and in 232 (75.4%) it was non-functioning (NF); in 115 cases (38.7%), the diagnosis was incidental. The median tumor size was 20 mm (range 2-150). NF-PETs were significantly more represented among carcinomas (P<0.001). Nodal and liver metastases were detected in 84 (28.3%) and 85 (28.6%) cases, respectively. The presence of liver metastases was significantly higher in the NF-PETs than in the F-PETs (32.1% vs. 17.8%; P<0.05), and in the symptomatic than in the asymptomatic patients (34.6% vs. 19.1%; P<0.005). At the time of recruitment, the majority of patients (251, 84.5%) had undergone surgery, with complete resection in 209 cases (83.3%).

Conclusions: This study points out the high number of new cases of PETs observed in Italy, with a high prevalence of NF and incidentally discovered forms. The size of the tumor was smaller and the rate of metastasis was lower than usually reported, suggesting a trend toward an earlier diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma, Islet Cell / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma, Islet Cell / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulinoma / diagnosis*
  • Insulinoma / pathology
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Prospective Studies