Neuroendocrine tumors arise in the neuroendocrine cell sin the body. These cells are present in many parts of the body. These cells have the characteristics of both nerve cells and endocrine cells.(2)

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Can Neuroendocrine Tumours Be Benign?

Can Neuroendocrine Tumours Be Benign?

Some types of neuroendocrine tumors may be benign, which means that they may grow but will not spread to other parts of the body or; they may be malignant, which means they may grow and spread to different parts of the body.(2)

Do Neuroendocrine Tumours Cause Pain?

Usually, in the initial stages, neuroendocrine tumors cannot be diagnosed as they do not produce any signs and symptoms. Hence, there may be no such signs and symptoms like pain.

Moreover, even after they are diagnosed, whether they cause pain or not will depend upon their size and the location at which they are placed. Also, depending upon the location of the tumor, you may experience various presenting signs including-

Different Types Of Neuroendocrine Tumours

There are many types of neuroendocrine tumors. They are named according to the type of cell that is involved or what type of hormones they make. These different types are-

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Carcinoids-

Carcinoid tumors can occur in many places in the body. however, they are most commonly seen in the digestive tract. This may include the appendix, small intestine, colon, stomach, rectum, etc.

They can also be seen in lungs or thymus. Occurrence in the pancreas, kidneys, etc. is rare.

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Carcinoids release different types of hormones which lead to different symptoms. These clusters of symptoms are known as carcinoid syndrome.(1)

Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumours-

These occur in the pancreas. There are again a few subtypes of this tumor, like-

Insulinomas-

These are the commonest of them all. These cancer cells produce insulin and they are often not malignant.(1)

Glucagonomas-

These tumors make glucagon which increases the blood sugar levels. About fifty percent of them are malignant and they usually spread to other parts of the body(1)

Gastrinomas-

These tumors make gastrin which helps in digesting food. These tumors are seen when you are affected with a rare disorder called Zollinger-Ellison syndrome. Most of them are cancerous and usually spread easily in the body.(1)

Somatostatinomas-

These tumors make an excess of somatostatin, which in turn affects the production of other hormones in your body(1)

VIPomas-

These make a kind of hormone that sets off the release of other hormones called the VIP or vasoactive intestinal peptides(1)

Pheochromocytoma-

  • This occurs in the adrenal glands.
  • This tumor makes adrenaline and noradrenaline which may lead to an increase in blood pressure.
  • These are usually not cancerous(1)

Medullary Carcinoma-

This occurs in the thyroid gland and it affects the calcium levels in the body.(1)

Causes Of Neuroendocrine Tumours

Most times, the cause of neuroendocrine tumors is not known. However, certain factors may increase your chances of getting them. These factors include-

Being affected by -

  • Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1- this causes tumors in the pancreas and other organs(1)
  • Neurofibromatosis type 1 - This causes tumors in adrenal glands(1)
  • Von- Hippel- Lindau syndrome- This creates tumours and sacs filled with fluid in many areas of the body(1)

Conclusion

Neuroendocrine tumors may be benign or malignant. The presentation of neuroendocrine tumors depends upon many factors like the location and size of the tumor, the extent of spread, the type of cancer cells involved, etc. Most of them may not cause any symptoms until they progress too late into the disease.

References:  

Also Read:

Sheetal DeCaria MD

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

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Last Modified On: August 17, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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