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:
Gastrointestinal (GI) tract, lungs, or thymus gland
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.
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.
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.