Is Stage 4 Neuroendocrine Cancer Curable?

Neuroendocrine cancer/tumor starts in the neuroendocrine cells in your body. These cells have features of both the type of cells- endocrine cells and nerve cells. Most of these tumors are benign while some are malignant. These can occur anywhere in the body where neuroendocrine cells are present, but most commonly they are seen in the intestine.(2)

Is Stage 4 Neuroendocrine Cancer Curable?

Stage 4 is the last stage of neuroendocrine cancer. It means that cancer has moved out of its site of origin and has spread far and wide, to lymph nodes and other parts of the body. At this stage, it may be quite difficult to completely cure cancer. This can require a multifaceted and quite an aggressive approach too. Also, there is a risk of side effects with multiple cancer treatments. However, with the help of these treatment methods, cancer/tumor symptoms can be reduced and the quality of life can be improved.

There are various treatment options available for treating the neuroendocrine tumor. The options may include-

The type of treatment that you will receive will depend upon various factors, including –

  • The type of tumor
  • The number of tumors
  • The size of the tumor
  • The location of the tumor
  • Whether it is malignant, benign or indolent
  • Whether it has spread to other parts of the body

Surgery-

  • Surgery is usually the choice of treatment for neuroendocrine tumor
  • It can help in completely removing some tumors, especially those that haven’t spread wide and are not cancerous
  • Surgery may help in removing the tumor, or it may help in removing a part or all organs that have been affected by the cancer
  • Other forms of surgery, like radiofrequency ablation, can be used for those people who cannot go for a standard surgical procedure. This method with its high energy radio waves will kill the cancer cells in an area.
  • For these kinds of surgeries, the doctor may need the help of MRI scan or ultrasound to guide the probe to reach the desired spot.(1)

Hormonal Therapy-

  • This treatment method is commonly used for treating carcinoids.
  • In this method, manual somatostatin is used, which helps in prohibiting the tumor from making hormones that cause carcinoid related symptoms.
  • This method may also be helpful in shrinking the tumor(1)

Radiation Therapy-

  • In this method, x-rays are used to target and destroy cancer cells.
  • This method is usually used when the tumor has spread, or it is located at such place that the doctors won’t be able to reach it otherwise.
  • However, radiation therapy can cause certain side effects as it also damages the healthy cells along with the cancerous cells.(1)

Chemotherapy-

  • In this method, medicines are used to kill cancer cells or prevent them from spreading to other places.
  • This method, however, has some side effects, as along with the cancer cells the healthy cells are damaged as well.(1)

Embolization-

  • In this method, the blood supply that helps the tumor thrive is blocked.
  • This treatment can be useful in case cancer has spread to the liver and is unremovable(1)

Targeted Therapy-

  • In this method, special medicines that attack special genes or proteins on the cells are used to kill cancer.
  • This treatment is beneficial since it does not harm the healthy cells, unlike chemotherapy or radiation therapy.(1)

Conclusion

Neuroendocrine tumor/cancer may be benign or malignant. It is classified into stages from 0 to 4. Stage 4 neuroendocrine cancer means that cancer has left its place of origin and spread far and wide in the body. It is difficult to cure a stage 4 neuroendocrine cancer/tumor. However, various treatment methods can help in alleviating the symptoms and improve the quality of life.

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