Neuroendocrine Tumors Treated by Expert Cancer Doctors in Baltimore
The Neuroendocrine Tumor Center at Mercy in Baltimore offers medical oncologists, surgical oncologists, gastroenterologists and other specialists to diagnose and treat neuroendocrine tumors, also be referred to as NETs or carcinoid tumors. Our doctors are recognized experts who provide patients with the latest diagnostic techniques and therapeutic options to treat neuroendocrine tumors.
The neuroendocrine system consists of the nervous system and the endocrine system. Both systems are made of neuroendocrine cells that are located throughout your body. Neuroendocrine cells can sometimes turn into cancer and become neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). These tumors are cancerous (malignant), range in size and differ in their rate of growth. NETs are generally slow growing and can sometimes produce excess hormones. There are also fast growing and aggressive neuroendocrine tumors.
Neuroendocrine tumors are rare (often referred to as an orphan disease), hard to find and difficult to diagnose. It is important to seek a doctor who is knowledgeable about neuroendocrine tumors to ensure a proper and timely diagnosis.
A neuroendocrine tumor often begins in the digestive tract, in particular the pancreas, as it has more neuroendocrine cells than any other part of your body. NETs also can be present in the appendix, lungs, ovaries, rectum, small intestine and testes.
Types of Neuroendocrine Tumors
There are many specific types of neuroendocrine tumors. They include the following:
- Gastroenteropancreatic NET (GEP-NET)
- Islet cell
- Gastrinoma, glucagonoma, insulinoma
- Merkel cell carcinoma
- Medullary thyroid carcinoma
- Small-cell lung carcinoma
Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) typically do not show signs until they have grown and spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body. Symptoms may include:
- Stomach pain
- Weight gain or loss
- Skin rash
Your symptoms may depend on the location and type of neuroendocrine tumor (functional or nonfunctional).
Functional NET – releases hormones that cause your symptoms.
Non-Functional NET – does not discharge hormones and produces symptoms like pain as the tumor develops
NET Location – the location of the NET can contribute to the types of symptoms
Your doctor may find neuroendocrine tumors during a routine exam or during surgery for another condition. Your doctor may order a number of tests to support the diagnosis including:
- Blood Test
- Urine Test
- Computed tomography (CT)
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
- Gallium 68 PET scan (a PET scan that uses a tracer, injected into the bloodstream, to identify tumors)
Possible treatment options for neuroendocrine tumors may include:
- Radiofrequency ablation
- Targeted radionuclide therapy, including PRRT - Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy
- Clinical Study
- Your doctor also may recommend incorporating a healthy lifestyle plan to help with your treatment. Some healthy lifestyle changes include:
- Diet consisting of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains
- Regular exercise
- Plenty of rest
- Prevent stress