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UK Markey Center doctor talks about pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer that killed Aretha Franklin

This week, the world lost one of the greatest singers of all time, Aretha Franklin.

She passed away after a battle with pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer at her home in Detroit on Thursday surrounded by family and friends. The ‘Queen of Soul’ was 76.

In the wake of her passing, there are questions about the type of cancer she had and what treatment options are available.

From Wikipedia

Pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the hormone-making endocrine cells of the pancreas. This cancer differs from pancreatic cancer, which is when malignant cells are found in the tissues of the pancreas.

The UK Markey Cancer Center (MCC) has a multidisciplinary neuroendocrine center that focuses on using various methods and therapies to treat neuroendocrine tumors based on the unique cases of each patient.

“We are among the very few programs in the country with two medical oncologists focusing exclusively on clinical management of neuroendocrine tumor patients,” said Markey’s Dr. Aman Chauhan.

Here is what Dr. Chauhan says you should know about pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors and how they can be treated:

What are pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors?

Pancreatic endocrine tumors (PNETs) are rare tumors – some of which can lead to cancer, while others are benign.

PNETs can spread to the liver, bones and lymph nodes.

What are the types of these tumors?

There are two types of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors.

Functional tumors can cause varying symptoms due to hormones, such as insulin and glucagon, being produced in excess.

Non-functional tumors are usually detected at later stages because they’re not producing extra hormones. When they do appear, symptoms include jaundice, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
How do doctors test for PNETs?

Doctors can use CT scans or PET scans to check for PNETs.

A biopsy is also necessary to confirm the diagnosis and to confirm the severity of the tumors.

How are PNETs treated?

A multidisciplinary approach is recommended for treating PNETs.

If possible, surgery is the preferred option during the early stage of the disease.

Patients who have a more advanced stage of the disease can have it managed through monthly injections, targeted therapy, chemotherapy, and peptide receptor radiotherapy (PRRT).

“MCC has been involved in various investigator-initiated and industry-sponsored clinical trials, helping advance therapeutic options for these rare cancer patients,” said Chauhan. “MCC has recently added PRRT, which has revolutionized treatment of well-differentiated neuroendocrine tumor patients.”

University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center

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One Comment

  1. Cynthia Whitlow says:

    My first talent show I sang Areatha Franklins song RESPECT. I was in 6th grade with a standing ovation. Thank you Queen, thanks for everything especially the memories RIP!

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