Mercy’s Dr. Sandy Kotiah, Institute For Cancer Care, Discusses Diagnosis And Treatment Of Neuroendocrine Tumors

January 13, 2014
Medical Oncology at Mercy - Baltimore

Dr. Sandy Kotiah, Director of The Neuroendocrine Tumor Center at Mercy

Neuroendocrine tumors are a rare form of cancer that's difficult to diagnose, and they're something people often live with for years but don't know it.

Maryland resident Carol Porter had a neuroendocrine tumor and had no idea until she went to see a gastrointestinal doctor for acid reflux.

"There were no symptoms before, during and after," Porter said. "I had a colonoscopy and endoscopy. They found a little tumor on my stomach, and that's what it turned out to be."

According to Dr. Sandy Kotiah, Director of The Neuroendocrine Tumor Center at Mercy, neuroendocrine tumors are rare. They develop from hormonal cells, but scientists don't really know why. She said it can be a difficult cancer for doctors to diagnose if they don't know what they're looking for.

"It's mainly found in the small bowel, and what happens is a lot of people have very vague symptoms for many, many years -- dry flushing, diarrhea, wheezing. They'll go to their doctor and be diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome or something else, and it'll take about five to seven years before they get diagnosed correctly," Dr. Kotiah explained.

Other symptoms include abdominal pain and cramping; reddish spots or veins, which are often on the face, chest and arms; bluish spots on the skin; heart palpitations; weight gain or loss; unstable blood pressure and unstable blood sugar.

If it's caught early, like in Porter's case, the treatment of choice is surgery. She had a small portion of her stomach removed and her prognosis is very good.

Dr. Kotiah noted that there's considerable research underway regarding the issue, and treatments for neuroendocrine tumors are improving all the time.

"I'm very hopeful for the future," she said.

Learn more about neuroendocrine tumors and view Dr. Kotiah’s interview with WBAL-TV11.

Dan Collins - Senior Director of Media Relations at Mercy Medical Center

Dan Collins, Senior Director of Media Relations

Email: Office: 410-332-9714 Cell: 410-375-7342

About Mercy

Founded in 1874 in downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed acute care university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a top Maryland hospital by U.S. News & World Report; a Top 100 hospital for Women’s Health & Orthopedics by Healthgrades; is currently A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Group), and is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet Hospital. Mercy Medical Center is part of Mercy Health Services (MHS), the parent of Mercy’s primary care and specialty care physician enterprise, known as Mercy Personal Physicians, which employs more than 200 providers with locations in Baltimore, Lutherville, Overlea, Glen Burnie, Columbia and Reisterstown. For more information about Mercy, visit, MDMercyMedia on FacebookTwitter, or call 1-800-MD-Mercy.

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