Pediatric Pancreatic Tumors

Pediatric Pancreatic Tumors

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Summary

Tumors develop and behave differently in children and adults, and cancer is rare in children and adolescents. Tumors arising in the pancreas are extremely rare in children. You will most likely need to consult a specialist.

Types

  • Adenocarcinomas
  • Acinic cell carcinomas
  • Gastrinomas
  • Glucagonomas
  • Liposarcomas
  • Lymphomas
  • Malignant insulinomas
  • Neuroendocrine (islet cell) tumors
  • Papillary-cystic carcinomas
  • Pancreatoblastomas
  • Squamous cell carcinomas

Tests and Diagnosis

Malignant pancreatic tumors, particularly the more common carcinomas, seldom secrete hormones. If the tumor releases insulin, it can cause the child to show symptoms such as weakness, fatigue and hypoglycemia. Carcinomas and pancreatoblastomas can cause an abdominal mass, pain and signs of wasting. A child might have elevated alpha-fetoprotein levels.

Most diagnoses are made by biopsy and samples are obtained using laparotomy or a minimally invasive surgery, such as laparoscopy. Diagnosing and treating pancreatic tumors can be complicated by the organ’s location in the abdomen. 

Treatment

Surgery to resect the tumor usually involves removal of the pancreas and duodenum or a portion of the pancreas. Complete tumor resection is key to a child’s long-term survival. The effectiveness of radiation therapy for children with pancreatic tumors is unknown. Postoperative chemotherapy may be used for localized or metastatic carcinoma of the pancreas.

Our team includes advanced practice nurses, psychosocial staff and child life specialists to support patients diagnosed with pancreatic tumors and assist their families. 

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