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Pancreatic islet cell tumor

  • Definition

    A pancreatic islet cell tumor is a rare tumor of the pancreas that starts from a type of cell called the islet cell.

    Alternative Names

    Islet cell tumors; Islet of Langerhans tumor; Neuroendocrine tumors

    Causes, incidence, and risk factors

    In the normal pancreas, cells called islet cells produce hormones that regulate a variety of bodily functions, such as blood sugar level and the production of stomach acid.

    Tumors that arise from islet cells of the pancreas can also produce a variety of hormones, though some do not.

    Although islet cells produce many different hormones, most tumors release only one hormone that leads to specific symptoms. Pancreatic islet cell tumors can be noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant).

    Islet cell tumors include:

    • Gastrinomas (Zollinger-Ellison syndrome)
    • Glucagonomas
    • Insulinomas

    A family history of multiple endocrine neoplasia, type I (MEN I) is a risk factor for islet cell tumors.