Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) are a rare type of tumors that developed in the cells of the neuroendocrine system whose main role is production and release of hormones into the blood stream. NETs usually develop over the course of several years and many patients may not experience symptoms until the neuroendocrine cancer has already spread to other parts of the body.
The causes of NETs are still not fully understood though certain pre-existing conditions like multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) and neurofibromatosis type 1 may increase your risk of developing neuroendocrine cancer. Additionally, being over the age of 60 is also a risk factor.
The symptoms of neuroendocrine tumors vary depending on their location in the body. A tumor in the digestive system – gastrointestinal tumor – may cause stomach ache, constipation or diarrhoea, while a lung one (pulmonary neuroendocrine tumor) may present itself with wheezing or persistent cough. Overall, NETs can lead to symptoms like change in bowel habits, shortness of breath, loss of appetite and weight loss. Certain types of neuroendocrine tumors – functioning NETs – result in abnormally large amounts of hormones being released into the bloodstream. This can lead to issues like diarrhoea, flushing, cramps, low blood sugar and heart problems.
Neuroendocrine tumors are normally diagnosed with blood tests, biopsies and scans such as ultrasound, computerised tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The most appropriate course of treatment depends on individual circumstances like the location of the NET, how advanced it is and the patient’s overall health. In general, if caught early, the tumor may be taken out via surgery which reduces the symptoms and makes the condition more manageable. In addition, patients may be prescribed medication like octreotide and lanreotide which stops the body from producing too many hormones and slows down the disease’s progression.
If you think you may be experiencing symptoms of a neuroendocrine tumor, it’s best to consult an expert. Get in touch with the experts from Apollo hospitals for a professional evaluation or advice on how to manage and treat your condition.