What is Neuroendocrine Tumor? What are its symptoms and treatment?

The endocrine system in the human body is the hormone-producing and managing system. The hormones produced by major endocrine glands like pineal gland, pituitary gland, pancreas, ovaries, testes, thyroid, and adrenal glands is secreted into the circulatory system and carried towards target organs.

A tumor begins when healthy cells change and grow out of control. These tumors can be benign or malignant. A cancerous tumor is malignant which can spread and grow in other parts of the body as well. An endocrine tumor is the that begins in the parts of the body that produce and release hormones, and thereby it also produces hormones. This can cause serious illness.

What is the Neuroendocrine tumor?

The neuroendocrine tumor begins in the hormone-producing cells of the body’s neuroendocrine system, which is made up of cells that are a combination of hormone-producing endocrine cells and nerve cells. These cells are found in lungs, intestines, and stomach.

There are 3 types of neuroendocrine tumors.

  • Pheochromocytoma − This is a rare kind of tumor that begins in the adrenal gland. These specialized cells release the hormone adrenaline during times of stress. Cancer can develop in one of the adrenal gland, or both.

  • Merkel cell cancer − It is one of the aggressive and fast-growing, rare cancer. It starts in hormone-producing cells just beneath the skin and in the hair follicles.

  • Neuroendocrine carcinoma − This can start in a number of places of the body such as the brain, lungs and gastrointestinal tract.

People with Neuroendocrine tumor are diagnosed with the following symptoms:

  • Hyperglycemia or High blood glucose which results in frequent urination, increased thirst, and increased hunger.

  • Hypoglycemia which causes fatigue, dizziness or light-headedness, sweating, seizures, and fainting.

  • Changes in bowel movements or bladder habits and Diarrhea

  • Loss of appetite or weight loss and sometimes unexplained weight gain

  • A cough or hoarseness that does not go away

  • Thickening or lump in any part of the body

  • Jaundice, which is the yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes

  • Unusual bleeding or discharge

  • Persistent fever or night sweats, constant headaches

  • Anxiety

  • Gastric ulcer disease

  • Skin rash

It is a rare disease. Statistics show that every year 10,000 to 12,000 people in the US are diagnosed with a neuroendocrine tumor.


The treatment options for a neuroendocrine tumor depends on several factors like the type of tumor, which stage it is and the patient’s overall health and other ailments.

The Targeted therapy is a treatment that targets the tumor’s specific genes, proteins, or the tissue environment that contributes to its growth and survival. This type of treatment blocks the growth and spread of tumor cells while limiting damage to healthy cells.

Other treatment options can be Surgery, Radiation therapy and Chemotherapy.

Recovery from a neuroendocrine tumor is not always possible. If the tumor cannot be cured or controlled, the disease may be called advanced or terminal.