Resection Versus Observation of Small Asymptomatic Nonfunctioning Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors

Alex Barenboim, Guy Lahat, Ido Nachmany, Richard Nakache, Yaakov Goykhman, Ravit Geva, Ester Osher, Erez Scapa, Ido Wolf, Lior Orbach, Eli Brazowski, Ofer Isakov, Joseph M. Klausner, Nir Lubezky*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Management of asymptomatic, nonfunctioning small pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PNETs) is controversial because of their overall good prognosis, and the morbidity and mortality associated with pancreatic surgery. Our aim was to compare the outcomes of resection with expectant management of patients with small asymptomatic PNETs. Methods: Retrospective review of patients with nonfunctioning asymptomatic PNETs < 2 cm that underwent resection or expectant management at the Tel-Aviv Medical Center between 2001 and 2018. Results: Forty-four patients with small asymptomatic, biopsy-proven low-grade PNETs with a KI67 proliferative index < 3% were observed for a mean of 52.48 months. Gallium67DOTATOC-PET scan was completed in 32 patients and demonstrated uptake in the pancreatic tumor in 25 (78%). No patient developed systemic metastases. Two patients underwent resection due to tumor growth, and true tumor enlargement was evidenced in final pathology in one of them. Fifty-five patients underwent immediate resection. Significant complications (Clavien–Dindo grade ≥ 3) developed in 10 patients (18%), mostly due to pancreatic leak, and led to one mortality (1.8%). Pathological evaluation revealed lymphovascular invasion in 1 patient, lymph node metastases in none, and a Ki67 index ≥ 3% in 5. No case of tumor recurrence was diagnosed after mean follow-up of 52.8 months. Conclusions: No patients with asymptomatic low-grade small PNETs treated by expectant management were diagnosed with regional or systemic metastases after a 52.8-month follow-up. Local tumor progression rate was 2.1%. Surgery has excellent long-term outcomes, but it harbors significant morbidity and mortality. Observation can be considered for selected patients with asymptomatic, small, low grade PNETs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1366-1374
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Gastrointestinal Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • Neuronedocrine tumors
  • Obervation
  • Pancreatic resection


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