Neuroendocrine Tumor Treatment

Neuroendocrine Tumor Treatment

If you’ve been diagnosed with a NET, your doctor will recommend treatment based on the tumor’s size and location. Everyone’s NET is different; therefore the treatment your doctor recommends will be specific to your situation. It is also important to make sure that Carcinoid Syndrome does not take a back seat in your treatment process. Share all your concerns and symptoms regarding Carcinoid Syndrome with your healthcare team. It is just as important to treat your Carcinoid Syndrome symptoms as it is to treat the tumor.

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Surgery to remove the tumor is often the first step your doctor will recommend taking.

Endoscopic resection

This technique is used when tumors are small. A thin instrument consisting of a light, a lens, and a surgical tool is inserted through the mouth and down through the digestive tract to the site of the tumor.

Hepatic artery embolization

Achieved through laparoscopic surgery, this type of therapy can reduce the blood flow through the main artery to the liver. This can help kill cancer cells.

Cryosurgery or cryotherapy

Achieved through laparoscopic surgery, this technique is used to freeze the tumor, destroying cancerous tissue.

Achieved through laparoscopic surgery, this medical procedure sends high-frequency radio waves to the tumor with the goal of killing cancer cells.

All types of surgery have varying recovery times. In ideal cases, surgery only removes the tumor. If that’s not possible, healthy tissue around the tumor, lymph nodes, and all or part of an affected organ (such as a section of the intestinal tract) may need to be removed as well. When part of an organ is removed, that organ may not function as well.

The effects of this depend on each particular surgery.

Discussion tips and conversation starters for you and your doctor:
  • What is the preparation and recovery time for surgery?
  • How will this impact my daily life and/or work?

An anticancer drug, or combination of drugs, is injected or taken by mouth. The drug travels throughout the body via the bloodstream. Carcinoid tumors don’t respond well to chemotherapy, or “chemo,” so it is not typically used unless the tumor has spread to other organs (from the intestines to the liver, for example). In addition to attacking cancer cells, chemo can damage healthy cells, including the cells in your bone marrow that create blood.

Side effects: Nausea and vomiting; loss of appetite; hair loss; mouth sores; low blood count

Discussion tips and conversation starters for you and your doctor:
  • How effective is chemotherapy for my particular type of neuroendocrine tumor?
  • How will this impact my daily life and/or work?
  • Are there physical or outward side effects of chemotherapy I should be aware of?
  • Are there any risks to chemotherapy?
Radiation can damage cancer cells, either killing them outright or preventing them from dividing and spreading.
  • Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy (PRRT):
    A protein is combined with radioactive material, which is injected into the bloodstream. The protein, octreotide, is attracted to the cancer cells, binds to them to prevent serotonin release, and brings radioactive material with it. The radioactive material kills the cancer cells.

Side effects: Nausea and vomiting (sometimes severe); low blood cell counts

Discussion tips and conversation starters for you and your doctor:
  • Is there a risk for secondary cancer with radiation therapy?
  • How long do I need to stay away from children and pregnant women?

Certain hormones can help slow tumor growth. Somatostatin analogs (SSAs) work similarly to the hormone somatostatin produced by the body. SSAs are given through injection and are used to block the effect of hormones produced by NETs in your body.

Side effects: Abdominal pain; musculoskeletal pain; vomiting; headache; injection site reaction; high blood sugar; hypertension; gallstones

Discussion tips and conversation starters for you and your doctor:
  • Are there any risks associated with hormone therapy?
  • Will I need to be on any therapies in addition to this?

This form of treatment acts on the specific molecules that allow cancer cells to grow and spread, blocking cancer growth, unlike chemotherapy or radiation.

Side effects: Inflammation of the mouth; infections; rash; fatigue; diarrhea; edema; vomiting; nausea; fever; weakness; cough; headache; and decreased appetite

Discussion tips and conversation starters for you and your doctor:
  • Will targeted therapy also help control my symptoms?
  • Are there any risks associated with this option?