What is Neuroendocrine Tumour? What are the Symptoms?
Before we started about Neuroendocrine Tumour let’s talk about Neuroendocrine system. Neuroendocrine means Neuron and endocrine gland attached to each other and formed Neuroendocrine system.
The neuroendocrine system is made up of nerve and gland cells. It produces hormones which regulate the body. Neuro means nerve and endocrine mean the cells of the endocrine system. Neuroendocrine cells are spread throughout the body organ such as intestine, lung, stomach, and pancreas.
Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) are neoplasms that arise from cells of the endocrine and nervous systems. Many are benign, while some are malignant (cancerous). They most commonly occur in the intestine, where they are often called carcinoid tumors, but they are also found in the pancreas, lung and the rest of the body.
Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) often grow slowly, and it may be several years before symptoms appear and the tumour is diagnosed. Here Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) are classified according to where cancer started in the body-
- Carcinoid tumours(Lung)
- Pancreatic NETs
- Lung NETs
- Small bowel NETs
- Large bowel NETs
- Appendiceal NETs
- Gastric NETs
Types of neuroendocrine tumors
Pheochromocytoma is a rare tumor that begins in the chromaffin cells of the adrenal gland. adrenaline hormone release from These cells during times of stress.
Symptoms: anxiety attacks, headaches, sweating, clammy skin, rapid pulse, heart palpitations, high blood pressure, fever, nausea, vomiting.
Merkel cell cancer:
Merkel cell cancer is a fast-growing, rare cancer. It starts in hormone-producing cells just beneath the skin and in the hair follicles. It is usually found in the neck region and head.
Symptoms: Firm, shiny lumps on the skin that can be red, pink, or blue, Painless.
Around 60 percent of neuroendocrine tumors cannot be described as anything other than “neuroendocrine carcinoma”. Neuroendocrine carcinoma can start in a number of places in the body, including the lungs, brain, and gastrointestinal tract.
Symptoms: Hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, diarrhea, persistent pain in a specific area, loss of appetite or weight loss, a cough or hoarseness that does not go away, thickening or lump in any part of the body, changes in bowel or bladder habits, unexplained weight gain or loss, jaundice, unusual bleeding or discharge, persistent fever or night sweats, headaches, anxiety, gastric ulcer disease, skin rash.
Risk factors for neuroendocrine tumors
(NETs) are unknown, however, there are few factors that increase the cancer risk.
People who have a rare family syndrome (Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN 1) & Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome (VHL)) have a higher risk of developing NETs. About 30-60% of patients with MEN1 will develop a neuroendocrine tumor. About 11-17% of patients with VHL will develop a neuroendocrine/carcinoid tumor.
Small cell lung cancer (SCLC), large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma (LCNEC) and neuroendocrine tumors are strongly associated with tobacco smoking.
Some types of neuroendocrine tumours are more common in people with a family history of the disease or other types of cancer.
Symptoms of neuroendocrine tumors:
Signs and symptoms of Neuroendocrine tumour depend upon the organ where tumour appears. Some neuroendocrine tumours are non-functional and show no symptoms. Few of the common symptoms include:
Loss of appetite/ unexplained weight loss or weight gain
Changes in bowel or bladder habits
Unusual bleeding or discharge
Hyperglycemias (too much sugar in the blood) or Hypoglycaemia (very little sugar in the blood)
Diarrhea and persistent pain in a specific area
A persistent cough and hoarseness
Thickening or lump in any part of the body
Jaundice (yellowing of the skin)
Persistent fever or night sweats, Headache, Anxiety, Gastric ulcers etc.