There’s a lot of scary diseases in this world but some of them are particularly spooky. One such spooky disease is the lesser known type of cancer that infiltrated my body – Neuroendocrine Cancer (aka Neuroendocrine Tumors or NET for short). Not only is it scary and spooky, but it’s also cunning, devious, misleading, double-crossing, and it likes nothing better than to play tricks on you.
It will grow in your body without you knowing. It finds places to hide, mainly the small intestine, appendix, lungs, stomach, pancreas, rectum and a host of other places. It can be fiendishly small to avoid being seen. Once it’s established in the primary location (….or locations), it will try to break out via your blood and lymphatic systems. It wants to establish other bases in your mesentery, your liver, your lymph nodes, your bones and any other place it can get to.
It can often be uncannily quiet, not showing any symptoms. However, sometimes it wants to have fun by over-secreting certain hormones to add or introduce symptoms which mimic many other conditions such as IBS, asthma, abdominal upset, diarrhea, flushing. These are just more tricks up its sleeve and they are very often a hormonal syndrome produced by the cancer. You will go to your doctor, perhaps many times, to report what looks like routine/regular symptoms. Unfortunately, it’s also really good at tricking your doctors. After several visits and despite your concerns, your doctors could become so frustrated that nothing serious is obvious, they might even start to think it’s all in your head. This is exactly what Neuroendocrine Cancer wants, it’s just getting started.
One particular type of NET has a wicked trick up its sleeve. This one will over-secrete a hormone called Serotonin which can often cause fibrosis in your abdominal area, potentially causing obstructions and damage to major organs and blood vessels. It’s not finished though, it will also try to introduce fibrosis to the right side of your heart causing more life threatening issues. In addition to common symptoms of flushing, this type and others will also make you feel weak, fatigued, pain, agitated, anxious, dizzy, nauseous, jaundiced, acid reflux, skin irritation, anaemic, lose weight and give you heart palpitations. It’s a real Witch’s Brew of symptoms and living with it is often not easy but its main trick is to prevent you from being correctly diagnosed and it’s pretty good at it.
However, it has a ‘finale’ trick. Neuroendocrine Cancer actually wants to kill you, and if it’s left to plough its relentless path throughout your body, that’s exactly what it will do, slowly but surely.
Thankfully, due to increased awareness, better imaging techniques, more education within the healthcare profession, things are improving but there is still so much more to do.
Even in surveillance mode, it can confuse you – now you see them, now you don’t.
It’s not just slow and scary, it can also be deadly. Spread the word and help save a life.
If you are suspicious you have Neuroendocrine Cancer but not yet formally diagnosed, you may appreciate this article.
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