If you’ve been diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor (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 is 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.
“I would like a treatment to control my symptoms and disease progression.”
Patient with carcinoid syndrome
Surgery to remove the tumor is often the first step your doctor will recommend taking.
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.
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
Radiation can damage cancer cells, either killing them outright or preventing them from dividing and spreading.
Certain hormones can help slow tumor growth. Somatostatin analogs (SSAs) work similarly to the hormone somatostain produced by the body. SSAs are given through injection and are used to block the effect of hormones produced by NETs in your body.
Biologics are treatments made from living organisms, sometimes produced in a laboratory.
This form of treatment acts on the specific molecules that allow cancer cells to grow and spread, blocking cancer growth, unlike chemotherapy or radiation.
*Afinitor is a trademark of Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.