Neuroendocrine cancer occurs when hormone producing cells start proliferating and form a malignant tumour. These tumours can also make hormones of their own and cause various symptoms. They can be either benign or malignant and can occur anywhere in the body, including the lungs, appendix, small intestine, rectum and pancreas.
They are a rare type of cancer and account for less than 1% of the total cases. Most neuroendocrine tumours grow slowly and don’t cause many symptoms compared with other types of tumours. That’s why most patients often struggle to get a timely diagnosis and appropriate care.
What are the symptoms you need to look out for?
Neuroendocrine tumours rarely cause any symptoms until it has metastasized. However, symptoms may vary from patient to patient and depend on the cancer type and location. With a neuroendocrine tumour, you might experience:
- Lumps under the skin
- Pain and fatigue
- Unexpected weight loss
- Skin flushing and rash
- Chronic diarrhoea
- Increased pulse rate
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Excessive thirst,/li>
- Dizziness and shakiness
What are the risk factors associated with neuroendocrine tumours?
While the risk of neuroendocrine tumours is higher in people who inherit genetic syndromes, other factors that can also increase the risk, including:
- Gender: They’re slightly more common in women than in men
- Ageing: They’re more common in middle age adults than young populations.
- Smoking: People who smoke regularly are more at risk of developing these tumours.
- Immunity disorders: People with autoimmune disorders are more at risk than others.
- Gastrointestinal conditions: Diseases that damage the stomach and reduce acid production can increase the risk of developing neuroendocrine tumour.
- Genetically inherited syndromes like multiple endocrine neoplasias, type 1 (MEN 1), type 2 (MEN 2) and Von Hippel-Lindau disease.
If our doctors suspect a neuroendocrine tumour, they will evaluate your symptoms and medical history and perform several tests to confirm it. These tests include:
- Physical exam: They will check for swollen lymph nodes or signs of excess hormone production.
- Blood tests: They will take a blood sample and test it for excess hormones produced by neuroendocrine tumours.
- Imaging tests: They will order imaging tests such as ultrasound, CT and MRI, to create a detailed image of the affected area. It will help to identify the tumour and see how far it has spread.
- Biopsy: They will remove a tissue sample from the tumour and test it for cancer.
Based on the diagnosis, our doctors develop the most effective treatment plan to cure cancer and reduce the chance of recurrence. It may include:
Surgery: Our surgeons remove the tumour along with the surrounding tissues to leave no traces of cancer in the body. If removing the whole tumour is not possible, debulking surgery is performed to remove as much cancer as possible.
Radiation Therapy: Our nuclear physician will use peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT) that allows radiation to be delivered directly to the tumour. It uses a combination of a drug and a small amount of radioactive substance to destroy cancer cells.
Chemotherapy: Our medical oncologists will use a group of anticancer drugs to stop and destroy cancer cells. These drugs can be given intravenously or orally, depending on the stage of cancer.
Hormone therapy. Our oncologists will use specialized hormone somatostat in that keeps the tumour from growing and also shrink it