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Ablation and embolization treatments are different ways of destroying tumors, rather than removing them with surgery.
Ablation or embolization can sometimes be used to help treat pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor (NET) that has spread to other organs, especially the liver. When pancreatic NETs have spread to other sites, these treatments can often reduce tumor size and improve symptoms. But these treatments are very unlikely to cure cancers on their own. They are more likely to be used to help prevent or relieve symptoms, and are often used along with other types of treatment.
Ablation refers to treatments that destroy tumors, usually with extreme heat or cold. They are generally best for tumors no more than about 2 cm (a little less than an inch) across. There are different kinds of ablative treatments:
Possible side effects after ablation therapy include abdominal pain, infection, and bleeding inside the body. Serious complications are uncommon, but they are possible.
During embolization, substances are injected into an artery to try to block the blood flow to cancer cells, causing them to die. This may be used for larger tumors (up to 5cm or 2 inches across) in the liver.
There are 3 main types of embolization:
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Chan JA, Kulke M, Clancy TE. Metastatic gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors: Local options to control tumor growth and symptoms of hormone hypersecretion. UpToDate website. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/metastatic-gastroenteropancreatic-neuroendocrine-tumors-local-options-to-control-tumor-growth-and-symptoms-of-hormone-hypersecretion. Updated Dec. 11, 2017. Accessed October 5, 2018.
Cho CS, Lubner SJ, Kavanagh BD. Chapter 125: Metastatic Cancer to the Liver. In: DeVita VT, Lawrence TS, Rosenberg SA, eds. DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg’s Cancer: Principles and Practice of Oncology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2015.
National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Neuroendocrine and Adrenal Tumors. V.2.2018. Accessed at https://www.nccn.org/professionals/physician_gls/pdf/neuroendocrine.pdf on October 5, 2018.
Schneider DF, Mazeh H, Lubner SJ, Jaume JC, Chen H. Chapter 71: Cancer of the endocrine system. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Dorshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff’s Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa. Elsevier: 2014.
Last Revised: October 30, 2018
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