Search in�� ��for��
Career Center
New Hospital Update
Learn More About MCI
Bill Payment
Upcoming Events
Find a Physician
Press Releases
Maps and Directions
Visiting Hours
Medical Services
Specialty Programs and Services
Volunteer Services
Birthing Center Tours
Family Care of Eastern Jackson County
Jackson County Medical Group
Family & Friends
Virtual Body
Virtual Cheercards
Web Babies
Decision Tools
Self-Assessment Tools
Natural and Alternative Treatments Main Index
Health Sources
Cancer InDepth
Heart Care Center
HealthDay News
Wellness Centers
Aging and Health
Alternative Health
Sports and Fitness
Food and Nutrition
Men's Health
Mental Health
Kids' and Teens' Health
Healthy Pregnancy
Travel and Health
Women's Health
Genus MD
Genus MD
Physician Websites
Legal Disclaimers
Privacy Notice

Send This Page To A Friend
Print This Page

Neuroendocrine Tumors



Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) are a rare type of tumor that can make hormones. Hormones are usually made and released by the neuroendocrine system. This system is made up of special tissues and glands. The endocrine tissue is partially controlled by the brain. Hormones affect how the body works. Examples are the metabolic rate, blood flow, or breathing. They can also change the levels of materials in the blood, such as glucose or calcium.

NETs are found throughout the body in the cells of the:

In many cases, neuroendocrine tumors cannot be identified as a specific type of cancer. When this occurs, it is called neuroendocrine carcinoma.

Islet Cells in the Pancreas

factsheet image

Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


Causes    TOP

Cancer is when cells in the body split without control or order. These cells go on to form a growth or tumor. The term cancer refers to harmful growths. These growths attack nearby tissues. They also spread to other parts of the body. It's not clear exactly what causes these problems. It’s likely a mix of genes and the environment.


Risk Factors    TOP

The chances of NETs depend on the type of cancer. Your chances are higher if you:

  • Eat a diet high in saturated fat—GI tract
  • Smoke—lungs
  • Spend excess amounts of time in the sun—skin
  • Work with metals or toxins—lungs or skin

Symptoms    TOP

NETs may produce excess hormones. This can cause certain problems. In those that have them, they will differ based on where the tumor is and what hormones are affected.

General symptoms of cancer may include:

  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Chronic cough with or without blood
  • Skin changes or sores that do not heal
  • Bleeding—especially from the GI tract
  • Digestive problems such as heartburn or problems swallowing
  • Bladder or bowel changes

Diagnosis    TOP

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. In some cases, a tumor is found while looking for something else.

You may have:

The physical exam and test results help find the cancer stage. Staging helps guide a treatment plan. NETs are staged from 0-4. Stage 1 is a very localized cancer. Stage 4 is a spread to other parts of the body.


Treatment    TOP

The treatment depends on the stage and type of cancer. In most cases, treatments are combined. Some can be used to ease symptoms caused by tumors or hormones that are causing problems.


Surgery removes as much of the tumor as possible. If cancer has spread, nearby tissue or lymph nodes are also removed. Surgery may be done with a scope or as an open procedure.

Ablation is the use of heat, electricity, ethanol, or radiofrequency waves. This destroys the cancer using a small needle. Sometimes a probe is inserted into the tumor.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is the use of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. radiation may be used before surgery to shrink the tumor or after to make sure all the cancer has been removed.

Chemotherapy    TOP

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. It may given by mouth, shots, or IV. The drugs enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body. It also may be used before or after surgery.

Medicines    TOP

Medicines are used to:

  • Control or block hormones released by the tumor.
  • Boost or change the body’s immune system by blocking growth of blood vessels that make the tumor grow.
  • Ease problems related to cancer treatment.

Prevention    TOP

There is no way to prevent NETs since the cause is unknown.


American Cancer Society

National Cancer Institute


Canadian Cancer Society

Health Canada


Kulke MH, Benson AB 3rd, Bergsland E, et al. Neuroendocrine tumors. J Natl Compr Cancer Netw. 2012;10(6):724-764.

Neuroendocrine tumor. Cancer.net website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed July 24, 2018.

Neuroendocrine tumors. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T576496/Neuroendocrine-tumors . Accessed July 24, 2018.

Signs and symptoms of cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-basics/signs-and-symptoms-of-cancer.html. Updated August 11, 2014. Accessed July 24, 2018.

Warner RR. Enteroendocrine tumors other than carcinoid: A review of clinically significant advances. Gastroenterology. 2005;128(6):1668-1684.

Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 7/24/2018

Health References
Health Conditions
Therapeutic Centers

Copyright � 1999-2007
ehc.com; All rights reserved.
Terms & Conditions of Use
Privacy Statement
Medical Center of Independence
17203 E. 23rd St.
Independence,� MO� 64057
Telephone: (816) 478-5000