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, Mercy Medical Center is a university-affiliated medical facility named one of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. by Thomson-Reuters with a national reputation for women’s health. Mercy is home to the nationally acclaimed Weinberg Center for Women’s Health and Medicine as well as the $400+ million, 20-story Mary Catherine Bunting Center. For more information visit Mercy online at, Facebook, Twitter or call 1-800-MD-MERCY.

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