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Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours (NET) are uncommon malignant tumours arising from endocrine cells of the pancreas.
Xavier: I was diagnosed with Pancreatic NET five years ago. Since then I went through different treatment, four surgeries, and a hepatic embolization.
I have now access to a real team of experts, and it's important for me because I know that at each stage of treatment, I will get the best case available.
Prof. Pascal Hammel, Gastroenterologist Hospital Beaujon: There are several situations to discover neuroendocrine tumours. It can be discovered by the radiologist, who performs a CT scan for another region, and find a well vascularised mass.
Another situation is a gastroenterologist who will see a patient complain of multiple ulcer pain or diarrhea.
After the diagnosis, there are many options for Pancreatic NET treatments. Whenever possible, if the patient is in sufficiently good condition, we propose surgery. When the patient is not operable, we can use medical treatment only.
Sometimes, patients are operated on. If they relapse, we use medical treatment, or re-operated. And some begin with medical treatment and then go on to surgery. Most should be combined.
Of course, some of them can be completely cured using surgery, and sometimes very aggressive surgery (resection of the pancreas, resection of the liver, and occasionally liver transplantation).
And there is a reason why doctors are somewhat optimistic when they're speaking to patients with Pancreatic NET, even if the disease is metastatic.
You have to keep in mind that Pancreatic NET represents less than 1 percent of pancreatic tumours in general. And most pancreatic tumours are adenocarcinoma. Adenocarcinoma is a very different disease, because it is much more aggressive and very difficult to cure. In contrast, Pancreatic NET have very slow-growing, and they can be cured or if they are not cured using surgery or chemotherapy, the survival of patient is very low compared to pancreatic cancer or adenocarcinoma.
Xavier: In my case, surgery was the best option. Pascal Hammel told me that new treatments are being developed and I may benefit from them in the future.
Prof. Pascal Hammel: Xavier's surgery was a very aggressive one. This was possible because Xavier is young and he is a strong guy; very courageous. And this is the best chance to slow the tumour growth.
Xavier: Now that I have recovered from my most recent surgery, in fact, I go to the hospital every three months for a scan and have a meeting with Pascal Hammel.
I'm now a board member of the Foundation A.R.C.A.D., which supports clinical research and patients' education for all digestive cancers.
I also know that new targeted therapies are being offered to patients that are inoperable. And it makes me feel hopeful for the future that new therapies will be available for all Pancreatic NET patients.
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