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Neuroendocrine Tumor

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Neuroendocrine Tumor

Neuroendocrine Tumor

Neuroendocrine tumors is the abnormal growth of cells in the neuroendocrine system. Mostly affects the lungs, gastrointestinal tract, and pancreatic glands. The symptoms and treatment often depend on the location and type.

A tumor an be said to be an abnormal growth in cells forming a mass, which could be malignant–can become big and spread, or benign–can grow but does not spread.

WHAT IS NEUROENDOCRINE TUMOR?

Neuroendocrine tumor simply means the abnormal increase or growth in the specialized cells of the neuroendocrine system. 

The neuroendocrine system is responsible for producing hormone substances that generate special influences on the activity of the body, and they are also nerve cells.

Although tumors may develop slowly, most neuroendocrine tumors are malignant tumors. It could affect any part of the body including:

  • Lungs

About 30% of most neuroendocrine tumors occur here, especially, the bronchial system, with most of them being carcinoid tumors.

  • Gastrointestinal Tract

This is the most common site for neuroendocrine tumor development, especially, the small intestine. 20% of neuroendocrine tumor occurs in the large intestine, 19% in the small intestine, and 4% in the appendix.

  • Pancreas

The pancreas, located between the stomach and the spine in the abdomen, has approximately, 7% of neuroendocrine tumors growing here. It is also called islet cell tumors because it occurs at the islet of the pancreas.

However, neuroendocrine tumors may start in any part of the body including the adrenal gland, rectum, etc.

Over 12,000 to 175,000 persons are said to be diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumors and it is still on the rise. This estimation was done by the cancer net editorial board based on annual data.

TYPES OF NEUROENDOCRINE TUMORS

The neuroendocrine hormones can be classified after their location or the hormone they produce. They include:

  • Carcinoid Tumors

They are formed mostly in the digestive system, which includes the stomach, small intestine, appendix, and rectum. Although sometimes they can be found in the lungs or the thymus. They rarely grow in the gonads, pancreas, kidney.

  • Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors

These tumors include:

  • Insulinomas; cells produce the hormone insulin that is responsible for controlling blood sugar levels, which is mostly benign.
  • Glucagonomas; cells that produce glucagon, which increases the blood sugar level in the body. They are often malignant or cancerous.
  • Gastrinomas; cells responsible for making the gastrin hormone that aids in digestion. They are cancerous and occur in Zollinger-Ellison syndrome.
  • VIPomas; cells responsible for the secretion of vasoactive intestinal peptides(VIP). Most VIPomas are cancerous.
  • Medullary carcinoma; found mostly at the thyroid gland – a gland that secrets thyroid hormone. This growth could affect calcium regulation in the body.


Pheochromocytoma; occurs in the adrenal gland, which is responsible for adrenaline and noradrenaline secretion. They are usually benign

Symptoms

Neuroendocrine tumors may not show symptoms at first but symptoms may vary depending on the location and type.

General symptoms include:

  • Always feeling tired
  • Losing weight
  • Pain 
  • Growing lump under the skin
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Hoarse voice
  • Vomiting
  • Pain
  • Rash

Symptoms due to pancreatic tumors

  • Diarrhea
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • A fast heartbeat
  • Increase hunger and thirst sensation
  • Weakness
  • Rash
  • Stomach pain.

Symptoms due to carcinoid tumors

  • Diarrhea
  • Red itchy skin on the face and neck
  • Stomach pain
  • Pain in chest
  • Troubled breathing
  • Easily fatigued

Causes

Since neuroendocrine tumors are still rare, the exact cause is still unknown, although, recent research has postulated that neuroendocrine tumor begins when the cells have a mutation in their DNA that causes the cells to multiply rapidly, hence, forming a tumor. This growth could be very slow or aggressive.

More about Treatment

RISK FACTORS

The risk is higher in people with a family record of the genetic syndromes and also if one has certain conditions such as:

  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia type1              
  • Neurofibromatosis type1
  • Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome

DIAGNOSIS

When diagnosis with this condition, you might be asked several questions such as

  • How long have you may have been feeling this way?
  • Do you feel any pain?
  • Any loss of appetite?
  • Are you tired more often?
  • Also, your medical record will be checked. 
  • A family medical history will be examined for any illness that runs in the family 
  • Then you will have to undergo some tests such as blood and urine test.
  • You will perform some scans like the computerized tomography scan, MRI, etc.
  • Biopsy also will be carried out.

TREATMENT

Treatment of neuroendocrine could be based on the kind of tumors, and if it is cancerous or not. Treatment of neuroendocrine tumors include

  • Surgery

This involves removing the tumors or the organ affected surgically, especially those that are not cancerous and have not spread.

  • Hormone Therapy

This method involves the use of drugs to supplement the actions of hormones. Sometimes, it prevents the tumor from making a tumor that could cause diarrhea and also shrink the tumor. It is mostly used for carcinoid neuroendocrine.

  • Radiation Therapy and Chemotherapy can be employed.
  • Embolization Therapy

This method includes putting a thin flexible tube called a catheter into the liver artery to block blood flow to the liver. This method is used in treating neuroendocrine tumors that spread to the liver when surgery cant be used.

  • Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy, like the name suggests, targets the causative proteins on tumor cells to kill the cancer cell through the use of drugs. It is usually done with radiation or chemotherapy.

FAQ

  • What kind of food should a person with a neuroendocrine tumor eat?

Living with neuroendocrine tumors can be quite hard, so eating a healthy diet is meal won't be out of place. Eat meals rich in fish, eggs, cheese, and beans. Avoid fatty foods, sugary drinks, and sweets.

  • What should I expect with neuroendocrine tumors?

Your expectations most times should be based on the kind of tumor you have, the rate at which it is spreading, and if it is cancerous. With the right medications and treatments, the tumor will be shrink.

  • Is neuroendocrine tumor survivable?

The survival rate of a neuroendocrine tumor depends on several factors such as the type, location of the tumor, and if the tumor can be removed surgically. 

 

  • What are the functional neuroendocrine tumors?

 

Functional neuroendocrine tumors is another form of classifying neuroendocrine tumor base on the release of hormones by the tumors. Most common with carcinoid tumors, as serotonin is released which can cause diarrhea and facial flushing.

 

  • What are non-functional neuroendocrine tumors?

 

Non-functional neuroendocrine tumors release little or no hormone, hence remarkable effects are not felt and symptoms may not be seen over a long period. Most neuroendocrine tumors are in this category. 

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Fortis Malar Hospital, Chennai Fortis Malar Hospital, Chennai is a leading multi-specialty, tertiary care hospital which offers com
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