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Second Cancers after Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors

Survivors of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) can be affected by a number of health problems, but often their greatest concern is facing another cancer. Cancer that comes back after treatment is called a recurrence. But some cancer survivors develop a new, unrelated cancer later. This is called a second cancer.

Unfortunately, being treated for one cancer doesn’t mean you can’t get another. People who have had a pancreatic NET can still get the same types of cancers that other people get. In fact, they might be at higher risk for certain types of cancer.

People who have or had a pancreatic NET can get any type of second cancer, but they have a higher risk than the general population of developing:

What can you do?

Many people with a pancreatic NET are treated with medicines that keep the disease in check without curing the disease, so they need to see their doctors regularly. Let your doctor know if you have any new symptoms or problems. They could be from the pancreatic NET getting worse or from a new disease or cancer.

All people with a pancreatic NET should avoid tobacco smoke. Smoking is linked to an increased risk of many cancers and might further increase the risk of some of the second cancers seen in patients with pancreatic NETs. They should also keep up with early detection (screening) tests for other types of cancer. 

To help maintain good health, pancreatic NET survivors should also:

  • Get to and stay at a healthy weight
  • Keep physically active and limit the time you spend sitting or lying down
  • Follow a healthy eating pattern that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and limits or avoids red and processed meats, sugary drinks, and highly processed foods
  • Not drink alcohol. If you do drink, have no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 per day for men

These steps may also lower the risk of some other health problems.

See Second Cancers in Adults for more information about causes of second cancers.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team

Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as editors and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Kamp K, Damhuis RA, Feelders RA, de Herder WW. Occurrence of second primary malignancies in patients with neuroendocrine tumors of the digestive tract and pancreas. Endocr Relat Cancer. 2012 Feb 13;19(1):95-9. doi: 10.1530/ERC-11-0315.

Kauffmann RM, Wang L, Phillips S, et al. Incidence of additional primary malignancies in patients with pancreatic and gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors. Ann Surg Oncol. 2014 Oct;21(11):3422-8. doi: 10.1245/s10434-014-3774-7. 

Rock CL, Thomson C, Gansler T, et al. American Cancer Society
guideline for diet and physical activity for cancer prevention. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 2020;70(4). doi:10.3322/caac.21591. Accessed at
on June 9, 2020.

Last Revised: June 9, 2020

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