The incidence of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (pNETs) is rising in the United States, according to data published in The Oncologist.

The data also suggest that many patients are being diagnosed at earlier stages, and there has been a steady improvement in survival across all stages.

For this study, investigators analyzed data from the SEER 18 registry spanning the period from 2000 to 2016. The researchers identified 8944 patients with pNETs and calculated age-adjusted incidence rates as well as overall survival (OS) outcomes.

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The cohort was 80% White, 87% were 45 years or older, and 56% had non-metastatic disease at diagnosis. Information on tumor grade was available for 5148 patients, and most had grade I tumors (69%).

The annual incidence of pNETs increased over the study period, from 0.27 per 100,000 people in the year 2000 to 1.00 per 100,000 people in 2016. This was due, in part, to more patients being diagnosed with localized disease in recent years.

The median OS was 68 months for the overall cohort, and the 5-year OS rates were 83% for localized disease, 67% for regional disease, and 28% for metastatic disease. The 5-year OS rates were 77% for grade I tumors, 63% for grade II, and 20% for grade III.

When examining OS over time, the researchers found a significant improvement in OS for patients diagnosed between 2009 and 2016, compared with those diagnosed between 2000 and 2008. The median OS was 85 months and 46 months, respectively (hazard ratio, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.62-0.70).

In a multivariable analysis, longer OS was associated with a more recent year of diagnosis, younger age at diagnosis, localized disease, lower grade, female sex, and surgery on the primary tumor.

“This study shows a steady increase in pNETs incidence, with notable stage migration to earlier stages in recent years,” the researchers concluded. “In addition to stage migration, the improvement in survival seen in our study was also probably a result of better treatment strategies, as the improvement in survival in recent years was seen across all stages, including advanced stage.”

Disclosures: Some study authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of disclosures.


Sonbol MB, Mazza GL, Mi L, et al. Survival and incidence patterns of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors over the last 2 decades: A SEER database analysis. Oncologist. Published online March 28, 2022.