Neuroendocrine Tumor of the Pancreas: Symptoms and Signs

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 02/2023

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about the changes and medical problems that can be a sign of a neuroendocrine tumor (NET) of the pancreas. Use the menu to see other pages.

What are the symptoms and signs of a pancreas NET?

A pancreas NET often causes no symptoms in its early stages. People with a pancreas NET may experience the one or more of the following symptoms or signs. Symptoms are changes that you can feel in your body. Signs are changes in something measured, like taking your blood pressure or doing a lab test. Together, symptoms and signs can help describe a medical problem. Sometimes, people with a pancreas NET do not have any of the symptoms and signs 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 an insulinoma

  • Hypoglycemia, which causes fatigue, nervousness and shakiness, dizziness or lightheadedness, seizures, and fainting episodes

  • Confusion

Symptoms of a gastrinoma

  • Heartburn and ulcers, caused by too much stomach acid production

  • 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 try to understand what is causing your symptom(s). They may do an exam and order tests to understand the cause of the problem, which is called a diagnosis.

If a tumor is diagnosed, relieving symptoms remains an important part of your care and treatment. Managing symptoms may also be called "palliative and supportive care,” which is not the same as hospice care given at the end of life. This type of care focuses on managing symptoms and supporting people who face serious illnesses, such as cancer. You can receive palliative and supportive care at any time during cancer treatment. Learn more in this guide’s section on Coping With 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 Diagnosis. It 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.