Background: Islet cell carcinoma of the pancreas is a neuroendocrine tumor often presenting with left upper quadrant mass and radiographic evidence of liver metastases. Because survival among these patients is determined largely by the pace of metastatic events in the liver, significant palliation may be achieved by regional hepatic therapy.
Methods: Five patients with islet cell carcinoma of the pancreas metastatic to the liver (four nonfunctional, one gastrin producing), were treated by hepatic arterial chemoembolization-infusion consisting of a mixture of polyvinyl alcohol sponge (150 mg) and cisplatin (150 mg) followed by 2-hour intraarterial infusion of vinblastine (10 mg/m2). Each patient received two such treatments, 1 month apart, requiring 3 to 6 days of hospital admission.
Results: Significant tumor regression (> 50%) was observed in four of five patients, lasting from 8 to 44 months. Toxicity was limited to right upper quadrant pain, paralytic ileus requiring nasogastric suction for 24 to 72 hours, transient, mild bilirubinemia and liver enzyme elevation, hypomagnesemia and hypokalemia, and occasionally, moderate, self-limiting granulocytopenia.
Conclusions: This preliminary, albeit limited, experience with hepatic chemoembolization-infusion in patients with islet cell carcinoma metastatic to the liver emphasizes the high incidences of durable tumor regression that can be achieved with minimal iatrogenic intervention.