Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs): Types, Symptoms, Causes And Treatmen


Neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) are abnormal growths found in the specialised cells called the neuroendocrine cells. These tumours are very rare and can be benign or malignant. Most of the reported cases are benign. The neuroendocrine cells are similar to the nerve cells and hormone-producing cells. NETs mostly develop in the intestine and are found in the pancreas, lung, appendix, small intestine, and rectum .

NETs are of different types, depending upon the location of the tumour growth, but are treated as a group of tissue as the cells share similar features such as possessing special secretory granules and producing biogenic amines and polypeptide hormones . The condition develops in stages, with it being contained in a particular area of the body (localised), have spread to nearby tissues or lymph nodes (regional) and have spread throughout the body (metastatic).

Read on to know more about neuroendocrine tumours, the different types, its causes and so on.

Classified as being functional or non-functional, functional NETs produce too much of a specific type of hormone whereas non-functional tumours may make hormones that do not cause any symptoms. The tumours can be indolent (tumour grows slowly) or aggressive (the tumours grow quickly and tend to spread to other parts of the body) .

The types of neuroendocrine tumours are classified by the part of the body where it has developed     .

A common type of neuroendocrine tumour, GI NETs develop in the organs located in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract such as the small intestine, rectum, stomach, colon, oesophagus and appendix. Most commonly, it is found in the small intestine and causes the release of too much serotonin, leading to carcinoid syndrome. GI NETs are further classified by how different the cells are from normal cells (differentiation) and how fast cell growth is (grade).

It is classified into well-differentiated GI NETs and poorly differentiated GI neuroendocrine carcinomas.

These are one of the most common types of neuroendocrine tumour which develops in the lungs or airways. They often develop in the bronchi as well. Lung NETs are further classified into four subtypes.

These tumours resemble the islet cells of the pancreas. pNETs are classified by examining the cells with the normal cells and recording the differences. It is also classified in accordance with the speed of cell growth.

Some of the other common types of neuroendocrine tumours are as follows :

The signs that you may have developed a NET depends on the type and location of the tumour.

If the person is suffering from pancreatic NET, the symptoms will be as followed :

If the individual is suffering from lung neuroendocrine tumours or carcinoid tumours, the symptoms will be as followed :

And the common symptoms of NETs are as followed :

In various cases, there has been a lack of clarity in understanding what the real cause is. However, your chances of developing the disease are more if you have a history of the following diseases in your family .

Some of the factors that can increase your chances of developing NETs are mentioned below .

The doctor will begin with a physical examination and ask you about any symptoms you have. Based on the physical examination, your doctor may refer you to a specialist or order tests to check for NETs .

Some of the other diagnosis methods are a biopsy, molecular testing, MIBG scan, PET scan, barium tests, endoscopy and a bone scan.

Depending upon certain factors, the precise treatment for NET will be determined by the doctor. Those factors are :

The treatment method used for NETs are as follows :

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