Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) are a type of cancer that develops in the cells of the endocrine and nervous systems. Neuroendocrine cells show similar traits as nerve and hormone-producing cells. Neuroendocrine tumors can be benign or malignant. Neuroendocrine tumors can occur almost anywhere in the body, but are most commonly found in the lungs, appendix, pancreas, small intestine, and rectum. Neuroendocrine tumors are quite rare, and are far more likely to be diagnosed in adults than children.
Symptoms may vary depending on the location of the tumor, and often do not show in early stages. However, neuroendocrine tumors may cause one or more of the following:
- Abdominal pain
- High blood pressure
- Swelling in the feet or ankles
- Wheezing and coughing
The exact underlying cause or causes of neuroendocrine tumors are unknown. However, suggested risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, exposure to certain chemicals, and long-term dialysis. There are many types of neuroendocrine tumors; therefore, each individual case can carry a different diagnosis and prognosis. Treatment plans will likely vary depending on the type, location, and growth of the tumor.
Treatment options for neuroendocrine tumors may include one or more of the following:
- Radiation therapy
- Targeted therapy