Advanced Neuroendocrine Cancer
Stage 4 Neuroendocrine tumors are referred to as Carcinoid tumors and can also be called metastatic cancer, or cancer that has spread. Neuroendocrine cancer is a rare type of cancer that, for unknown reasons, develops anywhere in the body in special cells of the body called neuroendocrine cells. Neuroendocrine cells are like nerve cells and hormone-producing cells.
There are many different types of neuroendocrine cancer. Some neuroendocrine cancer grows quickly while others grow slowly. Most of these tumors develop in the lungs, appendix, small intestine, rectum, testicles, ovaries, and pancreas. Some tumors can produce hormones, while others don’t.
In slow-growing tumors, symptoms don’t usually occur until it has spread which can be years before diagnosis. In the later stages of tumor development, symptoms may vary depending on the part of the body affected by the tumor.
For example, a GI tumor can spread to the liver and produce hormone-like substances to spread through the body, causing symptoms of flushing of face and chest, difficulty breathing, and diarrhea. These symptoms are called carcinoid syndrome. Whereas a lung tumor is more likely to develop coughing, wheezing, or pneumonia. It can also cause other symptoms once it has spread throughout the body.
There are certain risk factors that increase your chances of developing neuroendocrine carcinoids; such as a family history of multiple endocrine neoplasms, (MEN-), (GI) gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors, or a family history of Neurofibromatosis Type-1, (NF-1), or other genetic syndromes such as von Hippel Lindau disease, or tuberous sclerosis complex, a history of pernicious anemia, or other stomach related problems that decrease the amount of stomach acids. African Americans and men have a greater incidence of developing GI cancers. Caucasians have a greater incidence of lung involvement.
The type and location of the cancer you have will influence the treatments which are right for you! Treatment may include surgery, radiation, targeted therapy, or a combination of these treatment techniques. Multidisciplinary treatment, which uses two or more treatment types, is important for every cancer patient and will help in creating a care plan and goals for improving a chance of cure or prolonging survival. In some cases, participation in a clinical trial may provide additional options