is to assume that this disease is primarily related to the brain. Not many realize that this is mainly an abdominal disease which tends to mimic cancer. Although it is a rare tumour, the incidence seems to be increasing, even in our country.
Neuroendocrine Tumours mainly affect the abdominal organs such as the pancreas, intestine, appendix, stomach, as well as other organs. It can also affect the lungs and other organs as well. Many NETs are detected unexpectedly at regular check-ups or while investigating for something else.
The good news is that most Neuroendocrine Tumours do not behave like typical cancers. The low-grade NETs (grades 1 and 2) are slow-growing tumours which have high cure rates. There are also many treatment options which are well tolerated by patients. Some NETs are functional, which means there are hormones secreted by the tumour into the bloodstream causing symptoms related to that hormone. For example, if insulin is secreted, then the blood sugar tends to get extremely low, causing giddiness. Unfortunately, high-grade NETs (grade 3) tend to behave like cancers, and generally require chemotherapy.
Neuroendocrine Tumours usually require a special PET scan called a 68-Gallium PET scan or a DOTA-TOC scan. This helps to identify the tumour and its spread. The treatment is usually surgical. Other options like targeted therapy, long-acting octreotide, peptide therapy, and others are also effective.
To summarize, NETs are a relatively rare group of tumours which are usually ‘well-behaved’, with numerous treatment options, the primary modality being surgery.