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World Neuroendocrine Tumor Day Raises Awareness About Rare Cancer

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What is the purpose of NET Cancer Day?

World Neuroendocrine Tumor (NET) Day was created to raise awareness about all types of NETs, push for scientific advancements and provide a platform for global collaboration to address the many challenges NET patients face.

What is World NET Cancer Day?

World NET Cancer Day is recognized each year on Nov. 10. It was created to increase the awareness of neuroendocrine cancers and to provide a voice to the NET community for improved diagnostics, treatments, information care and research. Drawing attention to this uncommon form of cancer starts the global conversation among communities, professionals and governments.

Symptoms of Neuroendocrine Tumors

These tumors may not cause any signs or symptoms if they grow slowly. Symptoms may appear as the tumor grows or if hormones are released by the tumor. The symptoms also depend on where the tumor develops in the body.

Gastrointestinal Neuroendocrine Tumors (GI NETs)

Gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumors (GI NETs) can develop in any part of the gastrointestinal tract. This includes the small or large intestine and stomach. Symptoms or signs may include:

  • Discomfort or pain in the abdomen or rectum
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bleeding from the rectum or blood in the stool
  • Anemia; may cause fatigue
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Stomach ulcers, which can cause heartburn, indigestion and pain in the chest or abdomen
  • Weight loss
  • Blockage in the intestine, which may cause pain in the abdomen or constipation

Carcinoid Syndrome

Carcinoid syndrome is a group of symptoms caused by a NET releasing large amounts of serotonin, along with other chemicals, into the blood. This may happen in people with any type of NET. It commonly occurs with NETs of the small intestines that have spread to the liver. These symptoms may include:

  • Flushing of the skin (face and neck)
  • Diarrhea
  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Heart damage (carcinoid heart disease)

Symptoms of Lung Neuroendocrine Tumors (Lung NETs)

  • A cough that doesn’t go away
  • Coughing up blood
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Pneumonia
  • Carcinoid syndrome – may include flushing of the skin, diarrhea and wheezing

Cushing Syndrome

Cushing syndrome is a group of symptoms caused by too much cortisol in the body. Cortisol is a hormone that helps the body use glucose (sugar), protein and fat. This may happen in people with NETs, including some lung and pancreatic NETs, when too much hormone is released. The signs or symptoms of Cushing syndrome include:

  • Weight gain
  • A red, round and full face
  • Muscle weakness
  • Increased hair growth on the face and body
  • A buildup of fat between the shoulders or above the collar bone
  • Purple lines on the skin
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar (glucose levels)
  • Changes in mood and behavior

Symptoms of Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors (pNETs)

The signs or symptoms largely depend on the type of hormone being released by the tumor. These signs and symptoms may include:

  • Low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia); may cause sweating, shakiness, dizziness, extreme hunger and problems concentrating
  • High blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia); may cause extreme thirst and frequent urination, diarrhea and fatty stools
  • Stomach ulcers – may cause heartburn, indigestion and pain in the chest or abdomen
  • Weight loss
  • Patches of red, itchy and painful skin
  • Jaundice
  • Blood clots
  • Cushing syndrome, which may include a red, round and full face

Diagnosed with NETs

Neuroendocrine cancer can often be misdiagnosed or can take a long time to be correctly identified. It’s very common to have felt unwell for months or even years before a neuroendocrine cancer is diagnosed. Often patients are told that the symptoms are due to another condition, like irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, gastritis, asthma or problems linked to menopause. Once you’ve been diagnosed with a neuroendocrine cancer, it’s vital to get the best possible advice and treatment from the right team. 

The Ochsner Neuroendocrine Tumor Program includes a team of gastroenterologists, interventional radiologists, medical oncologists, nuclear medicine physicians, hepatobiliary surgeons, surgical oncologists and transplant surgeons who are prepared to manage your care and deliver clinical trials, targeted therapies, focal therapies and complex surgical care. We are a leader in the diagnosis and management of all forms of neuroendocrine tumors.

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