Who Is At Risk For Neuroendocrine Tumors & Is There A Blood Test For It?

Carcinoids are rare neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). Little is known about their risk factors; however, their incidence has significantly increased in the United States in the last 30 years. Many risk factors may increase your chance of developing gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors. The higher risk of developing neuroendocrine tumors is more in the case of patients with a family history of other cancers (not NETs).

But what is a risk factor? A risk factor is something that elevates your risk of developing a syndrome such as cancer. Every cancer perhaps has different types of risk factors. The common risk factors such as smoking can be altered by lifestyle changes, however, age factor or hereditary cannot be altered. This article will deal with the factors that increase the chance of developing a neuroendocrine tumor.

Who Is At Risk For Neuroendocrine Tumors?

Who Is At Risk For Neuroendocrine Tumors?

What causes neuroendocrine tumors are unknown, and no preventable risk factors have been found. However, some risk factors are avoidable and they often improve the survival rate of the patients besides keeping the inflammatory diseases at bay.

Risk factors that can be altered are:

Not Smoking- Research has shown that for every 15 cigarettes smoked, there is a DNA change and eventually, help in the formation of the cancerous cells. Smoking often increases the risk of carcinoid tumors of the small intestine. Although there is no evident way to prevent it yet putting an end to smoking is an avoidable risk factor for pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors.

Limited Amount Of Alcohol- Higher consumption of alcohol can intensify symptoms of carcinoid syndrome. They can trigger the symptoms, so if you cut down on these foods, you may lessen attacks. 1.

Risk factors that cannot be altered are:

Family History – A few studies have linked a family history of a specific type of cancer with developing neuroendocrine tumors. For instance, when your ancestors had a similar type of lung cancer, there are higher risks of developing lung neuroendocrine cancer.

Hereditary- Inherited gene changes (mutations) can be passed from parent to child. This often increases the risks of developing cancers. Some of the genetic syndromes that increase the risk of neuroendocrine tumors are

Diabetes- There are few proven theories which state that having diabetes can increase the risk of developing neuroendocrine tumors, especially the tumors in the pancreas or stomach. Individuals with type 1 diabetes have elevated chances of getting cancer.

Chronic Pancreatitis- Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) and von Hippel-Lindau syndrome increase your risk of developing pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer (islet cell cancer). 2. 3

Is There A Blood Test For Neuroendocrine Tumors?

Blood tests are often helpful in diagnosing many incidences of cancer, especially they are one of the most effective means of identifying neuroendocrine tumors. But what sort of information does blood test provide you?

Blood tests can:

  • Check the overall health condition of the individual and determine whether your liver and kidney are working properly
  • Determine the blood cell count
  • Diagnose cancer and other associated syndromes

There are different classifications in a blood test that may find higher than normal levels of gastrin, glucagon, insulin, serotonin, somatostatin, and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide. Some blood test checks for the protein that the neuroendocrine tumors release. Some diagnoses can be done instantaneously, such as a full blood count. But some other tests might take several weeks. Blood results vary slightly between laboratories and also differs between men and women. 4.

Conclusion

There are also other medical conditions with an unclear effect on the risk of developing specific types of neuroendocrine tumors such as being overweight or obese, coffee and a few others. However, no studies have confirmed this yet. Ask your healthcare provider about the risks and make a well-informed decision that is right for you.

References

  1. Risk factors associated with neuroendocrine tumors https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18491401
  2. Neuroendocrine tumors – Risk factors https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/neuroendocrine-tumors/risk-factors
  3. Known Risk factors of neuroendocrine tumors https://www.cancer.ca/en/cancer-information/cancer-type/neuroendocrine/risks/?region=ab
  4. Lab tests for neuroendocrine tumors https://www.webmd.com/cancer/neuroendocrine-tumors-tests#1

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