NEUROENDOCRINE TUMORS

Neuroendocrine tumors arise in specialized neuroendocrine cells. Neuroendocrine cells share characteristics with hormone-producing and nerve cells. Moreover, these tumors are an uncommon type of tumor that may form in various organs throughout the body. It affects the cells that secrete hormones into the circulation (neuroendocrine cells).

A neuroendocrine tumor comes in a variety of types. Some develop slowly, while others grow swiftly. Some neuroendocrine tumors secrete an overabundance of hormones (functional). Furthermore, others do not produce enough hormones to create symptoms (nonfunctional).

TYPES

The following are the types of neuroendocrine tumors:

  • Carcinoid tumors
  • Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor
  • Pheochromocytoma
  • Adrenal cancer
  • Merkel cell carcinoma
  • Paraganglioma

SYMPTOMS

Neuroendocrine tumors don’t usually show symptoms right away. Symptoms vary depending on the tumor’s location and generating extra hormones.

Signs and symptoms of a neuroendocrine tumor may include:

  • A developing lump that you’ll feel at the bottom of the skin
  • Losing weight without trying
  • The pain of a developing tumor
  • Feeling unusually tired

A neuroendocrine tumor that produces too many hormones (functional tumors) may result in:

  • Diarrhea
  • Increased thirst
  • Shakiness
  • Skin flushing
  • Frequent urination
  • Dizziness
  • Skin rash

DIAGNOSIS

The procedures and tests used to diagnose neuroendocrine cancer will vary depending on where the tumor is situated in your body. In general, testing may involve the following:

  • Physical exam
  • Tests to detect extra hormones
  • Imaging tests
  • Procedures for removing a cell sample for analysis (biopsy)

Moreover, if your neuroendocrine tumor is suspected of spreading to other parts of the body, it may subject you to additional methods to check the extent of cancer.

TREATMENT

The type of tumor will determine the treatment options for neuroendocrine tumors, location, whether or not you are experiencing symptoms of excess hormone production by cancer, how aggressive it is, and if it has migrated to other regions of the body for treatment and diagnosis of this tumor.

Neuroendocrine tumor therapy options, in general, may include:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT)
  • Radiation therapy
  • Surgery
  • Targeted drug therapy
  • Medications to control excess hormones

Other therapies may be accessible to you based on your condition and the kind of neuroendocrine tumor you have.

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