Symptoms of non functioning pancreatic NETs

Non functioning pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) are rare cancers that start in neuroendocrine cells of the pancreas.

Non functioning means that the NET doesn’t make hormones. Or it makes hormones that don’t cause a set of symptoms. You might have symptoms caused by the growth and spread of the tumour. 

These symptoms could be due to non functioning NETs of the pancreas, but can also be caused by other more common medical conditions. It’s important to get them checked by a doctor.

Symptoms

Symptoms usually develop slowly. Often, the tumour has already started to spread to other parts of the body such as the liver and the lymph nodes by the time it is diagnosed. Symptoms might include:

Tummy (abdominal) pain

Tummy pain happens to between 4 and 6 out of every 10 people with non functioning pancreatic NETs (40 and 60%).

Weight loss

You may lose a lot of weight even if you’re not dieting.

Indigestion

You can get indigestion when acid from the stomach goes back up (refluxes) into the food pipe or if the stomach is inflamed or irritated. Remember that indigestion is common and it's not usually caused by cancer.  

Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes

This is called jaundice. It can rarely happen because the tumour might block the tube that carries bile into the first part of the bowel (duodenum).

When to see your doctor

You should see your doctor if you have any symptoms that are unusual for you, won’t go away, or are getting worse. Although your symptoms are unlikely to be cancer, it is important to get them checked by a doctor.
Last reviewed: 
28 Jun 2021
Next review due: 
28 Jun 2024
  • Gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine neoplasms: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up
    M. Pavel and others
    Annals of Oncology 2020, Vol 31, Issue 5 

  • ENETS Consensus Guidelines Update for the Management of Patients with Functional Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors and Non-Functional Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors
    M Falconi and others
    Neuroendocrinology, 2016. Vol103, Pages 153–171

  • Gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors: pancreatic endocrine tumors
    David Metz and Robert Jensen
    Gastroenterology, 2008. Vol 135, Issue 5, Pages 1469-1492

  • Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology (11th edition)
    VT DeVita, TS Lawrence, SA Rosenberg
    Wolters Kluwer, 2019

  • Guidelines for the management of gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine (including carcinoid) tumors (NETs)
    J Ramage and others
    Gut, 2012. Vol 61, Pages 6-32

Related links