Encyclopedia Home / P / Pancreatic islet cell tumor

Pancreatic islet cell tumor

  • Alternative Names

    Islet cell tumors; Islet of Langerhans tumor; Neuroendocrine tumors


    Symptoms are caused by the hormone the tumor is producing.

    For example, insulinomas produce the hormone insulin, which helps the body lower blood sugar levels. Symptoms may include:

    • Feeling tired or weak
    • Shaking or sweating
    • Headache
    • Hunger
    • Nervousness, anxiety, or feeling irritable
    • Unclear thinking or feeling uneasy
    • Double or blurry vision
    • Fast or pounding heartbeat

    If your blood sugar gets too low, you may faint, have a seizure, or even go into a coma.

    Gastrinomas make the hormone gastrin, which helps the body manage stomach acid. Symptoms may include:

    • Abdominal pain
    • Diarrhea
    • Ulcers in the stomach and small bowel
    • Vomiting blood (occasionally)

    Glucagonomas make the hormone glucagon, which helps the body raise blood sugar levels. Symptoms can include:

    • Diabetes (present in most of the patients)
    • Inflamed mouth and tongue
    • Crusty or scaly skin rash on the face, abdomen, buttocks, or feet - may be filled with clear fluid or pus

    Signs and tests

    Blood tests may vary depending upon the symptoms, but may include:

    • Fasting glucose level
    • Gastrin level
    • Glucose tolerance test
    • Secretin stimulation test for pancreas
    • Blood glucagon level
    • Blood insulin C-peptide
    • Blood insulin level

    The following imaging tests may be performed:

    • Abdominal CT scan
    • Abdominal ultrasound
    • Endoscopic ultrasound
    • MRI of abdomen

    Other tests that may be done include:

    Sampling the vein drainage of segments of the pancreas

    Occasionally, surgery is needed to diagnose and treat this condition. During this procedure, the surgeon feels the pancreas and may use ultrasound probes.