Neuroendocrine Tumor of the Pancreas: Symptoms and Signs

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 02/2021

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about body changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. Use the menu to see other pages.

A pancreas NET often causes no symptoms in its early stages. People with a pancreas NET may experience the following symptoms or signs. A symptom is something that only the person experiencing it can identify and describe, such as fatigue, nausea, or pain. A sign is something that other people can identify and measure, such as a fever, rash, or an elevated pulse. Together, signs and symptoms can help describe a medical problem. Sometimes, people with a pancreas NET do not have any of the signs and symptoms described below. Or, the cause of a symptom or sign may be a medical condition that is not a tumor.

General symptoms

  • Abdominal pain

  • Jaundice, which is yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes

  • Vomiting blood

  • Sweating

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Anxiety

  • Headache

  • Convulsions

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Clouding of vision

  • Unexplained weight gain or loss

  • Inflamed mouth and tongue

  • A mass or lump in the abdomen

Symptoms of a functional pancreatic NET

Symptoms of an insulinoma
  • Hypoglycemia, which causes fatigue, nervousness and shakiness, dizziness or lightheadedness, seizures, and fainting episodes

  • Confusion

Symptoms of a gastrinoma
  • Ulcers, caused by too much stomach acid

  • Diarrhea

Symptoms of a glucagonoma
  • Hyperglycemia, which causes frequent urination, increased thirst, and increased hunger

  • Rash that spreads on the face, abdomen, or lower extremities

  • Blood clots

Symptoms of a VIPoma
  • Watery diarrhea

  • Too little potassium in the blood, which can cause an irregular heartbeat, muscle cramping and weakness, and decreased reflexes

  • Too little acid in the stomach, which can cause digestive problems and poor absorption of vitamins and nutrients

  • Flushing or redness of the face, neck, or chest

  • Fatigue

  • Nausea

Symptoms of a somatostatinoma
  • Type 2 diabetes

  • Gallstones

  • Steatorrhea, a condition where the body cannot absorb fat, causing oily and loose stools with a particularly bad odor

  • Diarrhea

  • Weight loss

  • Too little hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which can cause digestive problems and poor absorption of vitamins and nutrients

If you are concerned about any changes you experience, please talk with your doctor. Your doctor will ask how long and how often you have been experiencing the symptom(s), in addition to other questions. This is to help figure out the cause of the problem, called a diagnosis.

If a tumor is diagnosed, relieving symptoms remains an important part of your care and treatment. This may be called palliative care or supportive care. It is often started soon after diagnosis and continued throughout treatment. Be sure to talk with your health care team about the symptoms you experience, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

Learn more about managing common cancer symptoms and treatment side effects.

The next section in this guide is DiagnosisIt explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.