Neuroendocrine Tumors and How They Are Treated

Neuroendocrine cancer is not diagnosed often. Neuroendocrine neoplasms develop slowly, don’t have many pathognomonic symptoms and may not manifest themselves until the stage of metastasizing. As the disease is rare, it is better to undergo treatment at the specialized hospitals with relevant experience.

Types of neuroendocrine tumors and their symptoms

Neuroendocrine tumors are divided into groups according to their localization and hormonal activity. There are two main types of neuroendocrine tumors in terms of localization, i.e. tumors of the bronchopulmonary system and gastrointestinal tract.

Often patients with neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) of gastrointestinal localization have hot flashes, which are caused by high blood levels of serotonin, prostaglandins, and tachykinins. Hot flashes develop spontaneously and may last from several minutes to several hours.

Diarrhea occurs in 75% of patients with a gastrointestinal diagnosis. Patients may also experience sleep disturbances, fatigue, aggressiveness, dermatitis, glossitis, or cognitive disorders.

When the respiratory tract is affected, patients experience respiratory disturbances, decreased blood pressure, and irregular heartbeat. Almost all patients complain of weight loss, skin rashes, circulatory disorders, and anxiety attacks.

Another condition that is indicative of NETs is carcinoid syndrome, which usually occurs with hormonally active neoplasms. Carcinoid tumors most often manifest themselves with diarrhea (in 70% of patients), heart arrhythmia, or heart valve dysfunction (in 45% of patients). At the same time, skin reactions are observed, such as redness and excessive sweating. This complex of symptoms is called carcinoid syndrome.

Carcinoid crisis is a dangerous complication of neuroendocrine tumors. It typically develops against the background of invasive procedures or stress. This condition is accompanied by severe bronchospasm, tachycardia, and a sharp blood pressure decrease. The carcinoid crisis is life-threatening and requires urgent medical help.

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How are NETs treated?

In neuroendocrine cancer care practice, surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiation therapy, radiofrequency ablation, radionuclide therapy with Lutetium-DOTATATE and symptomatic therapy are used.

The radical therapeutic option is surgical excision. If cancer is already metastatic, surgical treatment is not applied. Minimal invasiveness is the main principle of surgical interventions in modern hospitals. Laparoscopic or thoracoscopic surgeries allow removing neuroendocrine tumors with minimum damage to healthy tissues. Tumor removal is carried out through small incisions, under the close visual control via video cameras.

If a malignant neoplasm is aggressive, chemotherapy is prescribed. Targeted therapy can also be carried out with medications that identify cancerous cells and destroy them precisely. Radiation therapy, radiofrequency ablation and radionuclide therapy with Lutetium-DOTATATE can also be included in the treatment regimen.

Tumor board elaborates the treatment regimen for neuroendocrine tumors based on the type, size of the tumor, its location, and general condition of the patient. The individualized treatment plan is based on the results of the comprehensive examination.

How to treat NETs abroad during a lockdown?

For over 12 years, Booking Health has been helping people receive qualified medical care abroad. The company successfully works during a lockdown. No matter what’s going on globally, organizing treatment in leading clinics abroad is Booking Health’s specialty.

The company will take care of all the arrangements, starting from submitting your request to the hospital, and helping you get a visa, and ending with translation of medical reports after your return home. Booking Health’s professional guidance will help you avoid unnecessary stress and save your time.

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Booking Health is always ready to give you any information or advice on the possibilities for diagnosis and treatment of neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). Feel free to fill in the request form on the Booking Health website for a specialist to contact you.