Neuroendocrine tumours (NETs) are slow-growing tumours, which develop in the endocrine system – the cells, glands and tissues that secrete hormones. They are most commonly found in the respiratory and digestive tracts, as well as in the adrenal glands, pancreas, thyroid and pituitary.
Dr Vikram Hundia, a specialist endocrinologist at the Al Zahra Private Hospital in Dubai, says symptoms depend on where the tumour is, but many patients with NETs suffer abdominal pain, diarrhoea and other symptoms including wheezing, constipation, rectal bleeding and intestinal blockages. “These tumours can take between five and 10 years to diagnose because the symptoms are non-specific,” says Dr Hundia.
“Unfortunately they can be nasty and they can metastasise [spread]. Diagnosis usually involves blood tests and a 24-hour urine test as well as scans.” He adds that, where possible, removal by surgery is the preferred treatment.