OBJECTIVES: Nonfunctioning pancreatic endocrine tumors (NFPTs) are rare neoplasms that have been the object of few studies that have involved only small numbers of patients. This study was carried out to obtain a comprehensive and up-to-date clinical picture of these tumors. METHODS: A total of 184 patients with NFPT admitted to three Italian hospitals in the last 15 yr were studied. The diagnosis of NFPT was confirmed histologically using conventional and immunohistochemical techniques. Data were obtained from the medical charts or directly from the patients. RESULTS: There were 85 men (46.2%) and 99 women (53.8%). The mean age at diagnosis was 55.2 yr (range 17-82 yr). The percentage of smokers and alcohol drinkers was similar to that in the general population. Seven patients (3.9%) had a family history of exocrine pancreatic carcinoma. In 120 cases (65.2%), the diagnosis was made after workup for pain or other symptoms, in the remaining 64 cases (34.8%), the tumor was discovered incidentally by ultrasound; in this group survival was significantly greater than it was for the symptomatic patients (p = 0.0043). Survival was also found to be improved by tumor resection (p <0.0001), absence of metastases (p <0.0001), and small tumor size (≤3 cm) (p <0.0007). CONCLUSIONS: NFPTs were slightly more frequent in women and were diagnosed most often in middle-aged individuals. No risk factors other than a family history of exocrine pancreatic carcinoma were found. Tumor discovery while patients were still asymptomatic, tumor resection, absence of metastases, and tumor size ≤3 cm significantly prolonged survival.
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