What Type Of Cancer Is Neuroendocrine Cancer?

Neuroendocrine cancer/tumor develops in the neuroendocrine cells that are present at several places in your body. These cells belong to both the systems-the endocrine as well as the nervous system. They possess the characteristics of both- the endocrine or hormone-producing cells and nerve cells. Most of these cancers/tumors are benign but some of them can be malignant and can spread to different parts of the body.(2)

What Type Of Cancer Is Neuroendocrine Cancer?

Neuroendocrine cancer may be benign or malignant. There are various types of neuroendocrine cancer. Some of them are benign while others are malignant. Let us have a look at these various types of neuroendocrine cancer or tumor-

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. Its occurrence in the pancreas, kidneys, etc. is rare.
  • Carcinoids release different types of hormones which lead to different symptoms. These clusters of symptoms are known as carcinoid syndromes.(1)

Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumours

These occur in the pancreas. There are again a few subtypes of this, 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 Cancer

Most of the times, the exact cause for neuroendocrine cancer/tumor is not known. However, having a disposition to certain factors may increase your risk of getting neuroendocrine cancer/tumor. These factors may include-

  • Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia Type 1- In this condition, the tumors grow in the pancreas as well as other organs
  • Neurofibromatosis Type 1- In this condition, tumors develop in the adrenal glands
  • Von Hippel-Lindau Syndrome- In this condition, tumors, and sacs filled with fluid form in many parts of the body(1)

Symptoms Of Neuroendocrine Cancer/Tumour

There may be following symptoms in different types of neuroendocrine cancer/tumour-

In pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer/tumor, you may experience-

In Carcinoids-

  • Loose motions
  • Skin flushing often in face and neck
  • Persistent coughing
  • Chest pain
  • Pain in stomach
  • Tiredness or weakness
  • Breathing trouble
  • Unexplained weight gain or weight loss(1)

Other types of neuroendocrine cancers/tumors may cause-

  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained bleeding
  • Loose motions
  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Headaches
  • Tachycardia
  • Nausea or a queasy feeling
  • Vomiting
  • Profuse sweating
  • Pain
  • Skin rash
  • Skin flushing
  • Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
  • Jaundice(1)

Conclusion

Neuroendocrine cancer arises in the neuroendocrine cells in your body. These cells have characteristics of both, the endocrine cells, as well as the nerve cells and;, are present at many places in your body. The neuroendocrine tumor may be benign or malignant. It may occur in any part of the body where this type of cells is present.

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