November 10th is NET Cancer Day! What is a NET cancer? NET stands for neuroendocrine tumors. These are rare tumors found in the gastrointestinal tract, lung, parathyroid, thyroid, pancreas, adrenal and pituitary gland. Recent data suggests that the incidence of NET tumors has increased over the last thirty years, probably due to better diagnostic tests for NET.
Facts about NET
- NET comes from the endocrine system. The endocrine system is made up of the glands that produce hormones. These hormones may regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and mood. The endocrine system includes the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, parathyroid glands, adrenal glands, pancreas, ovaries (in females) and testicles (in males).
- NET, like other tumors, happens when cells act differently than they should and multiply at rapid rates.
- We don’t know what exactly causes NET, but smoking tobacco may increase your risk.
- Some NETs are associated with genetic risk factors including Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) Syndrome, Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, Neurofibromotosis, and Zollinger-Ellison syndrome (https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/13445/neuroendocrine-tumor)
- NET may also be called “carcinoid syndrome” or gastroeteropancretic tumors
- There are many different kind of NETs including: gastrinomas, insulinomas, glucagonomas, pheochromocytoma, VIPoma, somatostatinomas and goblet cell carcinoids.
- Symptoms of NET include diarrhea, wheezing, changes in blood sugar levels, flushing of the head and neck and sweating.
- Surgery for NET is often the first line of treatment and can be curative.
- Other treatment options include medications called somatostatin analogues (Sandostatin/Sandostatin LAR, Lanreotide) or chemotherapy.
- Treatment recommendations should be made by a multidisciplinary team thatmay include surgery, gastroenterologist, pulmonologist, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist and interventional radiologist.
- Want more information about NET? There are several excellent patient education and support organizations including: