Neuroendocrine Tumours are cancers that begin in specialised cells called Neuroendocrine cells. Neuroendocrine cells have traits similar to those of nerve cells and hormone-producing cells. A Neuroendocrine tumour can start in almost any organ throughout the body. However, it most commonly occurs in the gastrointestinal or GI tract, the lungs, pancreas, appendix, small intestine, and rectum.
Diagnosis and treatment of Neuroendocrine Tumours depend on the type of tumour, its location, whether it produces excess hormones, how aggressive it is, and whether it has spread to other body parts. The centre of excellence will have experts from oncology, pathology, radiology, nuclear medicine, endocrinology, surgery, gastroenterology, and nursing to enhance patient care.
On September 19th, 2022, Rela Hospital, a Multi-Speciality Quaternary Care Hospital at Chrompet, Chennai, launched the “Centre of Excellence for Neuroendocrine Tumours” to provide the highest standard of care and expertise to patients with neuroendocrine tumours in India. The centre was inaugurated by Noble Laureate Prof Ada E.Yonath, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2009 for her pioneering discoveries on the structure and function of ribosomes.
Dr. Ilankumaran Kaliamoorthy, CEO of Rela Hospital, said, “We are delighted and honoured to have launched this centre by Prof. Ada. We at Rela Hospital are developing this new speciality or centre of excellence to address this rare tumour.”
Dr. C.S Mani, Senior Consultant- Surgical Oncology, Rela Hospital, said, “Neuroendocrine is a special group of cells scattered all over the body from head to foot. Recently, there has been an increase in the recognition of tumours. A few renowned celebrities like Steve Jobs, Irfan Khan, and Aretha Franklin were affected by this tumour. It is also increasing in incidence worldwide compared to last 10 to 15 years”.
Prof. Ada. E Yonath mentioned, “I am delighted to be here to launch this Neuroendocrine Tumour Centre at Rela Hospital. With the expertise and knowledge of the team of oncologists here, I am confident that patients with this life-threatening cancer will get the best treatment”.
The most common treatment for NET is surgery. Other treatments may be considered if your tumours are massive or have spread.
Somatostatin analogues – are a type of treatment that may prevent your body from producing too many hormones. When cancer cells have spread to other parts of the body, this may slow their growth.
Targeted therapy – is a type of cancer treatment in which drugs that target specific genes or proteins are used to kill cancer cells.
Chemotherapy – is a treatment that uses a variety of drugs to kill cancer cells.
Healthcare providers will diagnose NETs based on the type of NET they believe you have. Endoscopic ultrasonography, for example, could be used to diagnose neuroendocrine pancreatitis. The following are the most commonly used tests:
Biopsy – Biopsies are performed by providers in order to obtain cells, fluids, tissues, or overgrowth for a microscope examination.
Core needle biopsy – A fine needle and syringe are used by healthcare providers to extract fluid and tissue from lumps that show up abnormal.
Urinalysis – Urine is screened for signs of health conditions by providers.
Biochemical tests – determine the concentration or activity of a specific enzyme or protein in blood, urine, or tissue samples.
CT scan – A CT scan creates three-dimensional visuals of your soft tissues and bones by using a series of X-rays and a computer.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – is a painless test that employs a large magnet, radio waves, and a computer to produce extremely clear images of organs and structures within your body.
Positron emission testing (PET) scan – A radioactive tracer is injected into your body to help detect signs of cancer.
There are primarily two types of neuroendocrine symptoms:
Hormonal conditions – These include severe diarrhoea, severe gastric ulcers, and uncontrolled blood sugar levels that do not respond well to treatment. The hormones produced can differ depending on where the tumour is located in the body.
Mechanical – These are problems that affect the purpose of one part of the body, such as a bowel obstruction or pain in a specific location. These symptoms occur as a result of the tumour physically pressing on another structure.
Pathologists used to classify neuroendocrine tumours as “benign” or “malignant” based on the presence of the tumour cells under a microscope in some older classification systems. Unfortunately, these terms did not always truly depict whether or not the tumour would metastasize and become aggressive.
All neuroendocrine tumours are now considered cancerous. In terms of how aggressive they are, there are only shades of grey. Some spread extremely quickly. Others, however, do not. But we all think of them as cancer.
Many patients with neuroendocrine tumours experience progressively worsening hormonal symptoms. As a result, they may have symptoms for five to seven years before being diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumour.
Because they have been undetected or misdiagnosed for so long, some patients may find it difficult to rebuild trust with their medical team. By the time they receive an accurate diagnosis, they have frequently moved from doctor to doctor seeking assistance, repeatedly hearing, “I don’t do this very often, so it’s not my strength,” or “What you have is rare and very strange.”
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