Neuroendocrine Tumors

What Are Neuroendocrine Tumors?

Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) are a type of rare, malignant tumor that develop from cells of the neuroendocrine system. These tumors develop from cells that act as intermediaries between the nervous and endocrine systems and have the ability to produce and secrete substances like hormones. Common NETs originate from the digestive tract (stomach, small intestine, rectum, and colon) or lungs.

Signs and Symptoms of Neuroendocrine Tumors

The signs and symptoms of NETs can vary depending on their size and location, as well as the hormones they produce. Common symptoms include abdominal pain, fatigue, weight loss, abdominal fullness, and jaundice (yellowing of skin or eyes).

Diagnosis and Treatment of Neuroendocrine Tumors

NETs are typically diagnosed by imaging tests such as computed tomography (CT) scans or positron emission tomography (PET) scans. Treatment of NETs can vary depending on the type and stage of the tumor. Options include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or targeted drug therapy.

What Are the Risk Factors for Neuroendocrine Tumors?

The exact cause of neuroendocrine tumors is unknown, but they are more common in people with certain genetic conditions, including MEN type I and II and multiple endocrine neoplasia type C. Other risk factors include smoking, a family history of neuroendocrine tumors, or exposure to certain environmental toxins.

Prevention of Neuroendocrine Tumors

While there is no way to prevent neuroendocrine tumors, certain lifestyle changes may lower your risk. These include avoiding environmental toxins, avoiding smoking, and maintaining a healthy diet and weight.

Tips for Living With Neuroendocrine Tumors

  • Attend all of your regular check-ups and imaging tests.
  • Be familiar with the signs and symptoms of NETs and contact your doctor as soon as possible if any develop.
  • Ask your doctor about genetic testing to determine if you may be at increased risk for developing NETs.
  • Follow your doctor’s recommendations for lifestyle changes to lower your risk of developing NETs and other health conditions.
  • Be aware of the signs and symptoms of NETs and contact your doctor as soon as possible if any develop.