Health Care

Here’s every­thing you need to know about neu­roen­docrine can­cer – the dis­ease ac­tor Ir­rfan Khan is suf­fer­ing from.


The rare can­cer that Ir­rfan Khan is suf­fer­ing from…

It has been a month since ac­claimed Bol­ly­wood ac­tor Ir­rfan Khan made a star­tling rev­e­la­tion about bat­tling a rare dis­ease called neu­roen­docrine can­cer. Re­cently, he penned his emo­tional jour­ney of go­ing through a painful treat­ment in Lon­don in a lead­ing news­pa­per. Dr Vikas Ost­wal, MD DM, As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor, Dept of Med­i­cal On­col­ogy, Con­sul­tant GI DMG (Gas­troin­testi­nal Dis­ease Man­age­ment Group), Tata Memo­rial Hos­pi­tal, Mum­bai, gives us a lowdown on what neu­roen­docrine can­cer is all about, its causes, pre­ven­tion, treat­ment and more…

What Is Neu­roen­docrine Can­cer? It is a rare type of can­cer aris­ing from spe­cific cells in­volved in acid se­cre­tion or the hor­mone pro­duc­tion in the gas­troin­testi­nal tract. It can oc­cur in dif­fer­ent grades de­pend­ing on the can­cer cell mul­ti­pli­ca­tion rate. Over­all, neu­roen­docrine tu­mours oc­cur ap­prox­i­mately in one to two out of 1,00,000 peo­ple. In case of car­ci­noma (can­cer aris­ing in the ep­ithe­lial tis­sue of the skin or of the lin­ing of the in­ter­nal or­gans) rate, it is fur­ther lower.

Symp­toms To Iden­tify Gen­er­ally, it causes a de­crease in ap­petite, cough, vom­it­ing and weight loss. Neu­roen­docrine can­cer may se­crete ex­cess acids or hor­mones, lead­ing to other symp­toms like di­ar­rhoea. Neu­roen­docrine car­ci­noma can oc­cur in the lung, stom­ach, pan­creas etc.

Risk Fac­tors There is no spe­cific risk fac­tor. But gen­er­ally it de­vel­ops in el­derly men. Some vi­ral in­fec­tion and ex­po­sure to cer­tain heavy met­als like ar­senic may be re­spon­si­ble in a few cases.

Causes The ex­act cause for the ex­is­tence of neu­roen­docrine

can­cer isn’t known. Safe hy­giene prac­tices and avoid­ance of to­bacco are the way for­ward to­wards less can­cer risks.

Early Di­ag­no­sis Neu­roen­docrine can­cer is gen­er­ally di­ag­nosed late, es­pe­cially in the fourth stage. If di­ag­nosed early, chemo­ther­apy and surgery would help cure the pa­tient. De­vel­op­ment of weight loss, de­creased ap­petite, hy­per­acid­ity, di­ar­rhoea etc should be eval­u­ated from an ex­pert.

Are The Chances Of Sur­vival Com­par­a­tively Lower? Yes, since it is di­ag­nosed com­monly at stage four, which is an ad­vanced stage of can­cer. Treat­ment with chemo­ther­apy at this stage gen­er­ally con­trols the tu­mour for a few months be­fore it starts re-grow­ing to take pa­tients to the ter­mi­nal phase of life rapidly. Treat­ment Chemo­ther­apy is con­sid­ered for ap­prox­i­mately six months and surg­eries can be con­sid­ered too. Though the dis­ease re­mains lo­cal­ized to the pri­mary site, some­times, ra­dio­ther­apy to the brain is also con­sid­ered.

Pre­ven­tive Mea­sures Have a healthy diet with high pro­tein and high fi­bre con­tent. Over­all, one should adopt a healthy life­style and take ut­most care of self-hy­giene.

A high pro­tein diet helps dur­ing the chemo treat­ment

Aer­o­bics helps build mus­cle mass lost due to the can­cer

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