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Clinical Specialties - Cancer

Gastrointestinal Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETS)

Gastrointestinal (GI) Cancer MDTNeuroendocrine tumours (NETs) are rare tumours that develop in cells of the neuroendocrine system. The neuroendocrine system is a series of glands that produce hormones that are carried in the bloodstream. These hormones have different roles in the body.

There are a number of different types of neuroendocrine tumour. The type you have depends on the particular cells that are affected.

The gastrointestinal cancer experts at Sydney Adventist Hospital use several methods to confirm your diagnosis and determine the stage of your disease. They have experience with early-stage as well as complex cancer; have access to advanced diagnostic tools and a wide range of treatments, including clinical trials. At the same time, our supportive clinicians help you manage side effects to support your quality of life. Explore this section to learn more about gastrointestinal neuroendocrine cancer, its side effects and your treatment options.

About GI NETS

Neuroendocrine tumours are very diverse and formed by neuroendocrine cells. These cells are found throughout the body, which means that neuroendocrine tumours can arise in a variety of organs, including the gastrointestinal system.

Carcinoid tumours are by far the most common type of neuroendocrine tumour found in the gastrointestinal system. About 80% of carcinoid tumours grow in the appendix and small bowel, however they can also develop in the pancreas, lungs, stomach, ovaries, kidneys or testicles. Other, rarer types of gastrointestinal neuroendocrine tumours include small cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma, and pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours.

What are the symptoms of GI NETS?

The type of symptoms caused by NETs can be different depending on the location of the tumour.

In the case of GI NETS symptoms include:

  • Watery diarrhoea
  • Intermittent abdominal pain or cramping
  • Facial flushing, which is redness and a warm feeling over the face
  • Asthma like wheezing
How is GI NETs diagnosed?

Diagnosing NETs will vary depending on the location of the tumour and the patient’s symptoms. NET diagnosis can often be difficult due to the often very small size of the tumour and the fact that they can occur in any part of the body.

Generally tests to diagnose NETs will include blood tests to check for biochemical markers, imaging scans (including CT and MRI) and biopsies. In some cases and to confirm diagnosis, a small sample of the tumour may be obtained for laboratory examination.

What are my treatment options?

Treatment options for NETs vary depending on the size and location of the tumour and how advanced it is. Patients may receive one or more treatments such as surgery, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and radiolabeled therapy.

Why should I choose the San for treatment?

When you are facing a cancer diagnosis, knowing that you can get expert care, support and treatment all under the one roof, can provide comfort to you and your family.

Resources and useful GI NETS links
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