Neuroendocrine Tumor

Like all other healthy cells of the body, neuroendocrine cells can also keep on growing, be dying, and replaced by new cells. Sometimes, neuroendocrine cells grow abnormally to form tumors, known as Neuroendocrine tumors or NET.

Neuroendocrine tumors are formed in cells of the neuroendocrine system that controls various functions in the body, such as digestion and how the body responds to stress or injury. They can grow and spread (metastasize) to various other regions like pancreas, stomach, intestines, lungs, liver or bone.

Out of 2 patients, 1 patient is diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor that has already invaded to other regions because:

  • It is hard to find tumor has grown or spread
  • No signs and symptoms until unless tumor has grown or spread
  • Some of the symptoms make it seem like other diseases, so it may take more time to be diagnosed

Types of NETs

NETs can occur anywhere in the body and they’re often differentiated based on the region where they grow.

  • Carcinoid Tumors grow in the Digestive system, like stomach, small intestine, colon, or rectum, Lungs, Pancreas, ovaries or testicles. They are the most common type of NET and generally grow slowly.
  • Islet Cell Tumor or pNET (Neuroendocrine tumor in your pancreas)

When the neuroendocrine tumor occurs in the pancreas or the islet cells, it is known as an islet tumor or a pNET. Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors are entirely different than other types of pancreatic cancer as they are originated from neuroendocrine cells in pancreas. Also, they are less common than other types of pancreatic cancers and specifically associated with better clinical outcomes.

NET in lungs

They are formed from neuroendocrine cells in lungs, known as a lung neuroendocrine tumor or a bronchial NET. These tumors are also different from other types of lung cancers. Lung NET is rarely occurred and cause symptoms from hormone secretion, so it is difficult to diagnose this tumor.

Common NET Symptoms

Symptoms of Neuroendocrine tumor depend on the location and kind of tumor growth.
A Carcinoid tumor is located in the digestive system, it will cause symptoms like:

  • Diarrhea, Cramps, and Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of Weight

When NET is located in lung, symptoms are:

  • Chest pain
  • Coughing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Whistling while breathing, or Wheezing

A pNET located in the pancreas that makes hormones can show symptoms like:

  • Fast heartbeat, Dizziness, and weakness
  • Headaches, hunger, frequent urination, thirst, and weight loss
  • Pain in belly, Heartburn, and diarrhea


Despite extensive advancement in diagnostic techniques, diagnosis of NET remains one of the most elusive among cancers due to twofold reasons, such as:

  • NET is a slow-growing tumor.
  • Most of its symptoms are like many other hundreds of diseases and conditions.

An early and accurate diagnosis is the primary step toward successful or the best possible outcome.

Various tests performed for NET diagnosis include: blood and urine tests, body scans, scopes, and other tests that may be based on:

  • Clinical Symptoms
  • Measuring hormones, Biochemical tumor markers, and other health markers
  • Various imaging tests, like CT scans, MRI, Ultrasound, and Somatostatin Receptor Scintigraphy (SRS).

Several considerations are kept in mind while designing a treatment plans such as:

  • Disease Stage
  • Tumour Grade
  • Hormones secreted by a tumor

Primary treatment goal remains:

  • Surgical removal of the whole or part of tumor
  • Control the actions of hormones secreted by the tumor cells
  • Manage complications and symptoms caused due to tumor or hormones

Surgical Options:

  • Curative Surgery: Complete removal of a tumor and surrounding tissue.
  • Cytoreductive Surgery or Debulking Surgery: Removal of a large portion of a tumor cells to improve the followed effectiveness of chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
  • Palliative surgery: This surgical procedure aimed at controlling symptoms of tumor while maintaining the quality of life.
  • Liver-directed Therapies: It includes various embolization techniques, such as Arterial embolization, Chemoembolization, and Radioembolization. These techniques are used to reduce or completely block the blood flow through the hepatic artery to the liver cells.
  • Radiation Therapy: Includes External Beam Radiation, Brachytherapy, and Radionuclide therapy.
  • Chemotherapy: Usually done with CAPTEM.
  • Biologically Targeted Therapies: Targeted therapies are used to attack the tumor cells while limiting damage to normal cells.
  • Somatostatin Analog Therapies: Only proven therapy to manage hormonal symptoms that result from NETs.

If you or your loved ones are also amongst the newly diagnosed Neuroendocrine tumor patients, then visit the trusted Chandigarh Cancer And Diagnostic Center (CCDC). Or Book an appointment to consult with one of the specialist cancer surgeons.