What're the treatments for insulinoma?
Insulinoma is a progressive disease requiring constant monitoring and care, as well as adjustments in medications. Either surgery, medications, or both will extend the life of your ferret about 2 years. Unlike adrenal tumors, surgery is not always an
option and will not necessarily provide a cure. This is because many tumors are very small and spread out over the pancreas. If there are obvious nodules, these can be removed surgically. Suspicious portions of the pancreas can also be removed in surgery, but incorrect pancreatic surgery can cause and inability to digest fat or even diabetes. If surgery is needed, the vet should also look for the commonly associated adrenal tumors while inside the ferret.
Surgery is the preferred treatment for insulinoma. The tumor is localized with diagnostic testing or surgical exploration. Solitary tumors are removed, but patients with multiple tumors usually require partial removal of the pancreas (partial pancreatectomy). At least 15% of the pancreas is left to avoid malabsorption due to lack of pancreatic enzymes.
If no tumor is found at surgery or a patient is not a candidate for surgery, the drug diazoxide may be given to lower insulin secretion and avoid hypoglycemia. A diuretic is always given with this medication to avoid retaining too much salt. Octreotide has also been used to suppress insulin secretion in some patients. Medical treatment is also used to stabilize the person prior to surgery.