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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 49-54

Risk factors for aggressive nonfunctional pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors and the role of endoscopic ultrasound guided fine-needle aspiration

1 Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington, USA
2 Department of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA
3 Department of Medicine, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York, USA
4 Department of Pathology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
5 Department of Surgery, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
6 Department of Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Correspondence Address:
Alexander R Ende
2033 2nd Avenue, Apartment 1110, Seattle, Washington - 98121
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2303-9027.175897

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Background: Nonfunctional pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (NF-pNETs) are increasingly being diagnosed but management, especially of small tumors, remains a clinical dilemma. Endoscopic ultrasound guided fine-needle aspiration (EUS-FNA) is now routinely used for diagnosis of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (pNETs) but has not been well studied as a tool for identifying aggressive disease. Materials and Methods: A systematic search of the cytology database identified all patients at our center who underwent EUS-FNA from 1999 through 2011 and were diagnosed with NF-pNET. Results: A total of 50 patients were identified. Though patients with metastatic disease had a mean tumor size of 40 mm compared to 25 mm in patients without metastatic disease (P = 0.04), we also identified several patients with tumors <20 mm who presented with metastatic disease. Furthermore, we found no statistically significant difference in metastatic disease between tumors <20 mm and >20 mm (P = 0.13). Using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis, we found that using a cutoff point of 20 mm only led to a sensitivity of 85% in screening for metastases, while lowering the cutoff point to 18 mm allowed for a sensitivity of 95%. Conclusion: Currently, guidelines suggest that only patients with tumors greater than 20 mm undergo surgical resection, as tumors less than this size are thought to have low risk of metastases. Our analysis suggests that these recommendations could lead to undertreating patients with small tumors. Tumor size alone may be inadequate as a marker for aggressive NF-pNETs. Given this, other risk factors for aggressive pNETs should be studied to help identify the patients most likely to benefit from surgery.

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