What are neuroendocrine tumors (NETs)?
Neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) are a group of rare tumors that originate in neuroendocrine cells. These tumors can also be referred to as neuroendocrine neoplasms (NENs) or neuroendocrine carcinomas (NECs). Depending on the type of cell in which the cancer originates, there are various types of NETs. In most cases, NETs grow slowly over several years and may not produce any symptoms in the early stages. It is not uncommon for people to discover that a NET has already spread to other parts of the body when they are diagnosed.
What are the symptoms?
In general, neuroendocrine tumor signs and symptoms might include:
- Pain from a growing tumor
- A growing lump you can feel under the skin
- Feeling unusually tired
- Losing weight without trying
Neuroendocrine tumors that produce excess hormones (functional tumors) might cause:
- Skin flushing
- Frequent urination
- Increased thirst
- Skin rash
Neuroendocrine tumors may not cause noticeable signs right away. When they do, they may have grown larger or turned cancerous and spread. They may block the GI tract, interfere with the liver or push on sensitive structures. They are called functional tumors.
At other times, symptoms come from NETs releasing hormones. These effects may draw attention to the tumor. But like symptoms from tumor growth or spread, they can overlap with many other conditions. It’s not uncommon for people to come to us having spent several years seeking an accurate diagnosis. They are called non- functional tumors.
Where NETs start points?
NETs grow in different parts of the body and are named after the location where they start. Around 50% of NETs start in the digestive system (GI), which includes stomach, intestines, pancreas, and rectum. Approximately 20% of NETs start in the lungs, while others start in the esophagus, appendix, skin, prostate, womb, adrenal, parathyroid, and pituitary glands.
How a NET is diagnosed
There are many tests used for diagnosing a NET. Not all tests described here will be used for every person. Your doctor may consider these factors when choosing a diagnostic test:
- The type of NET suspected
- Your signs and symptoms
- Your age and general health
- The results of earlier medical tests
Most NETs are found unexpectedly when people have x-rays, or a medical procedure done for reasons unrelated to the tumor. If a doctor suspects a NET, they will ask for a complete medical and family history and perform a thorough physical examination. In addition, the following tests we do at EXCEL DIAGNOSTICS & NUCLEAR ONCOLOGY CENTER to diagnose a NET:
- DetectNet® (Cu-64 DOTATATE) PET/CT for NET
- NetSpot® (Ga-68 DOTATATE) PET/CT for NET
DetectNet® (Cu-64 DOTATATE)
Detectnet is a radioactive diagnostic agent indicated for use with positron emission tomography (PET) for localization of somatostatin receptor positive neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) in adult patients. Detectnet effective from April 1, 2021, is included in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN).
Netspot is a sterile, single-dose kit for intravenous use. Ga 68 DOTATATE uptake reflects somatostatin receptor density in NETs and other tumors or pathologic conditions. Confirmation via histopathology or other assessments may be required.
Why choose us?
Excel Diagnostics & Nuclear Oncology Center is the perfect choice for those seeking excellence in nuclear medicine. Our unwavering commitment to advanced diagnostic services and innovative patient care has resulted in numerous groundbreaking achievements. We are excited to share that our sister company, Radio Medix, has developed Detectnet, which is included in the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN) Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology – Neuroendocrine and Adrenal Tumors, version 1.2021. Detectnet is a vital tool that facilitates the evaluation of neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) and is specifically designed to identify somatostatin receptor-positive neuroendocrine tumors in adults. We are dedicated to providing cutting-edge cancer care and are eager to support you on your path to recovery. “Neuroendocrine cancer continues to be an area of research for Radio Medix,” said Ebrahim Delpassand, MD, CEO of Radio Medix.
As we celebrate 20 years of groundbreaking advancements, we look forward to continuing to lead the way in providing exceptional healthcare solutions.
Get help if you recognize the symptoms:
To explore additional diagnostic therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals under investigational trials for various cancers or to discuss your diagnostic options, please call our Houston, Texas, office at 713-781-6200 or use our online form to get started.