Insuloma; Islet cell adenoma
Surgery is the recommended treatment for insulinoma. The tumor is first found by tests or surgery. Medication may be used to get patients stable before surgery.
If there is a single tumor it will be removed. However, if there are many tumors, part of the pancreas will need to be removed (partial pancreatectomy). At least 15% of the pancreas must be left to produce its enzymes. This may prevent the surgeon from removing the whole insulinoma tumor.
If no tumor is found during surgery, or if you are not a candidate for surgery, you may get the drug diazoxide to lower insulin production and avoid hypoglycemia. A diuretic (water pill) is given with this medication to prevent the body from retaining fluid. Octreotide is used to reduce insulin release in some patients.
In most cases, the tumor is non-cancerous (benign), and surgery can cure the disease. However, a severe hypoglycemic reaction or the spread of a cancerous tumor to other organs can be life-threatening.
Call your health care provider if you develop any symptoms of insulinoma. Convulsions and decreased consciousness are an emergency -- call 911 or your local emergency number.
Cryer PE. Glucose homeostasis and hypoglycemia. In: Kronenberg HM, Shlomo M, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2008:chap 33.
Jensen RT, Norton JA. Endocrine tumors of the pancreas and gastrointestinal tract. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2010:chap 32.
National Cancer Institute. Islet cell tumors (pancreatic) treatment PDQ. Updated October 31, 2008.
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