Genome methylation accurately predicts neuroendocrine tumor origin – finding Neuroendocrine Neoplasms of unknown primary


It’s estimated that around 5-10% of Neuroendocrine Neoplasms (NENs) have an unknown primary – what that means is cancer cells have been found in the body but the place cancer began remains unknown.  I wrote about this issue in more depth in my article “Needle in a haystack” – you can read that here.  In that article, you will note that NET specialists through their knowledge and understanding of the behaviour of these comped tumours, can often drill down and gather various pieces of evidence to help narrow down the primary location. However, this new study would indicate they could have access to a new tool to be able to home in on a particular location.

DNA methylation-based profiling is now routinely used in the diagnostic workup of brain tumors but this new research looks useful in augmenting histopathological diagnosis in neuroendocrine tumors. Scientists compiled data of 69 small-intestinal, pulmonary, and pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. These data built an algorithm (NEN-ID) that predicts the origin of tumor samples with high accuracy (> 95%) and concluded that this DNA methylation-based prediction model can be used in the workup for patients with neuroendocrine tumors of unknown primary. The algorithm also gives indication of inherited predisposition syndromes von Hippel–Lindau disease (VHL) and multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1).

The article from the American Association of Cancer Research is a subscription article and is linked below – so will only show an abstract.  I also discovered some previous research in this area, but this study is also a paid article, so again, only an abstract.  But the abstracts do give useful background.  Interestingly the initial research indicates that small intestine, duodenal and pancreatic NENs appear to be the most sensitive.

The first study confirmed that molecular signatures are different in primary NETs and the second study confirmed the results of testing the algorithm to produce a tool called NEN. This is quite exciting news, particularly for those with an unknown primary.

It must be noted, however, that details of routine accessibility of this tool for NET specialists are not yet known.

Distinct DNA Methylation Signatures in Neuroendocrine Tumors Specific for Primary Site and Inherited Predisposition – click here

Genome methylation accurately predicts neuroendocrine tumor origin – an online tool – click here

Another similar study using methylation DNA markers was published in 2022. This one is focused on pancreatic Neuroendocrine Neoplasms and better markers for distinguishing pancreatic cancer and neuroendocrine cancer of pancreatic origin.  Click on the title below to read.

Discovery and Validation of Methylated DNA Markers From Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors – ScienceDirect


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2 thoughts on “Genome methylation accurately predicts neuroendocrine tumor origin – finding Neuroendocrine Neoplasms of unknown primary

  • I worked Aviation security from shortly after 911 through 2014. I spent the years standing next to 13 unshielded CTX machines in a confined space inspecting baggage and or operating x-rays, body imagers & ETD’s (which use radio active isotopes). In baggage we couldn’t use ear protection because we couldn’t communicate which was imperative should something go wrong or alarm. I had to go through as many as 13 physical tests a year to keep my job; pass or fail (be fired). Now with that said in December 2019 I was diagnosed with Neuroendocrine cancer. February 5, 2020 I was operated on and 4 tumors & 1.5 feet of intestine were removed. Prior to the surgery my oncologist immediately began a regime of Lanreotide injections which continue monthly to date. So far I’ve recovered well but the threat remains. I’ve no other possibility as to why I developed cancer save the equipment I operated and was exposed to. I’m seriously contemplating speaking to my attorney regarding establishment of a case.

    • Firstly, sorry to hear about your diagnosis. Sounds like you have a small intestine NET (SI NET) one of the most common. No-one really knows what causes NET other than the hereditary types (SI NET is not officially a hereditary type although trials are ongoing). SI NETs can be a bit sneaky so make sure you get good surveillance in the next few years, there’s a threat to the liver.

      I suspect if there was a link with NETs and imaging devices in general, we would already know. Too much radiation is known to be problematic but in cancer terms that tends to be leukemia. The risk is low. I would guess these avenues have been explored in the legal world already, might be worth doing your homework before spending money.

      Suggest you read my blog post

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