The shock effect never wears off

The shock effect never wears off

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
Patient stories are key to any awareness campaign.  Nothing like a human being standing up and letting you know about their experience.  Many are positive examples of how they are overcoming their trials and tribulations, others tell stories of a struggle. They all have different styles, some are the 'kick ass' type stories, some are just thankful, some are reflective - all of them are perfectly acceptable. I normally like to place myself somewhere in the middle with phrases like "I'm still here", although I can veer left and right when the mood takes me! Because of my social media footprint, I get a lot of private messages from people across the globe. Many are from people who have no wish to go public and that's fine. Many are from…
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Cancer Isn’t All About Me

Cancer Isn’t All About Me

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
[caption id="attachment_11078" align="alignleft" width="150"] As featured by Cure Magazine[/caption][caption id="attachment_4318" align="aligncenter" width="500"] It's about others too[/caption]Since my diagnosis of incurable and metastatic neuroendocrine cancer in 2010, it's really all been about me. I didn’t see the trauma coming, and my family has supported me throughout every single step. I really don’t want to be the focus of attention as that mantle was normally evenly distributed. However, there’s nothing like a cancer diagnosis to put you into the spotlight.Facing an uncertain future with regular scans, injections, treatment, pills, examinations and blood tests has made me the center of attention, whether I like it or not. The focus is on me because these things are necessary to keep me alive for as long as possible and also because I live with the…
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Lanreotide for Lung NETs – SPINET Clinical Trial

Lanreotide for Lung NETs – SPINET Clinical Trial

Clinical Trials, Treatment
Reviewed and updated 19th October 2021.  Phase III trial data updatedThere's been a lot of action in the area of what is termed Gastro-Entero-Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors (GEP-NETs).  It can therefore sometimes appear that Lung NETs are the poor relation.  There are certainly some unmet needs in this area of the anatomy including a lack of research.  However, there has been some recent movement. Last year, the use of Afinitor (Everolimus) was approved for progressive, non-functional NET of GI or Lung origin.SPINET Trial for Lung NETsIn late 2016, I tipped you off about an Ipsen sponsored trial for Lung NETs involving Lanreotide (Somatuline).  SPINET is a Phase 3, prospective, multi-center, randomized, double-blind, study evaluating the efficacy and safety of Lanreotide plus "Best Supportive Care" (BSC) versus placebo plus BSC for the treatment…
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At home with Lanreotide (….and Octreotide)

At home with Lanreotide (….and Octreotide)

Treatment
I think after 145 injections (as of 20 Dec 2021), I think it's safe to say I'm now 'at home' with Lanreotide (Somatuline Autogel - Somatuline Depot elsewhere).  I want to talk about Lanreotide here because that is where my experience is. However, below I have included a bit about how patients can get their long-acting Octreotide (Sandostatin LAR) at home too.I was fortunate enough to have the injection 'at home' via an insurance policy for the first 4 of the years of my treatment.  That was handy because it was informal, chatty, and I had excellent 'continuity of service' with the same nurse administering 80-85% of those 54 injections.  I only had 3 other nurses over that period covering my local nurse's holiday etc.When I retired from work, I…
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Immunotherapy: Studies with Neuroendocrine Neoplasms

Immunotherapy: Studies with Neuroendocrine Neoplasms

Clinical Trials, Treatment
IntroductionThere's a lot of Immunotherapy stuff out there! However, I also wanted to break it down and perhaps see if I can pick up the what, when, why, where and how in regard to Neuroendocrine Cancer. It's difficult, not least because the picture is not clear and there is no general roadmap printed, let alone one for Neuroendocrine disease. Immunotherapy for NETs was discussed at ENETS 2017 in Barcelona. The presentation that sticks out was one given by Dr Matthew Kulke, a well-known NET Specialist in Boston. My reaction to the presentation was one of 'expectation management' and caution i.e. it's too soon to know if we will get any success and when we will get it. He also hinted that it's more likely that any success will first be…
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All you need to know about Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy (PRRT)

All you need to know about Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy (PRRT)

Clinical Trials, Treatment
Update June 6th 2021. Novartis reports clinically relevant improvement in median overall survival data in final analysis of pivotal NETTER-1 study with targeted radioligand therapy Lutathera. New analysis of the NETTER-1 trial data has been published. For those who just need a quick summary, the quote from Dr Jonothan Strosberg is below. Short PRRT PrimerWhat is Peptide Receptor Radionuclide Therapy (PRRT)?For those who are still not sure what it's all about. This is a non-surgical treatment which is normally administered intravenously. It's based on the use of somatostatin receptors to attract a 'radiopeptide'. The radiopeptide is a combination of a somatostatin analogue and a radioactive material. As we already know, somatostatin analogues (i.e. Lanreotide/Octreotide) are a NET cell targeting drug using somatostatin receptors, so when combined with radioactivity, it binds with…
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Don’t believe the hype – Neuroendocrine Cancer Myths debunked

Don’t believe the hype – Neuroendocrine Cancer Myths debunked

Awareness, Diet and Nutrition, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
OPINIONThere's a lot of inaccurate and out of date information out there. Some is just a lack of understanding, some caused by out of date websites, often as a result of patient forum myth spreading. Some can only be described as propaganda. Some of it even comes from doctors and NET advocate organisations. Myth 1: All Neuroendocrine Tumours are benignNot true. By any scientific definition, the word 'tumour' means 'an abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should. Tumours may be benign (not cancerous), or malignant (cancerous)'. Sure, some NETs will be benign but a tumours which spreads away from the primary site cannot be benign by any scientific definition. However, since the World Health Organisation (WHO) 2010 classification…
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In the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life

In the war on Neuroendocrine Cancer, let’s not forget to win the battle for better quality of life

Awareness, Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
OPINION.  Date of Article March 2017.  In the last 24 months, there seems to have been announcement after announcement of new and/or upgraded/enhanced diagnostics and treatment types for Neuroendocrine Cancer.  Increased availability of radionuclide scans, increased availability of radionuclide therapies, combination therapies, increased availability of somatostatin analogues, biological therapies, enhanced surgical and minimally invasive techniques, new oral drugs for carcinoid syndrome, more trials including immunotherapy. Admittedly, some of the announcements are just expansions of existing therapies having been approved in new regions. Compared to some other cancers, even those which hit the headlines often, we appear to be doing not too badly. However, the pressure needs to stay on, all patients, regardless of where they live, need access to the best diagnostics and treatments for them, and at the requisite…
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It’s been 10 years since I saw a scalpel (….but my surgeon is still on speed dial)

It’s been 10 years since I saw a scalpel (….but my surgeon is still on speed dial)

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
In 2012, I had a bunch of lymph nodes removed. Two separate areas were resected, only one was showing growth but both were showing up as hotspots on an Octreoscan.  I had known since shortly after diagnosis in 2010 that 'hotspots' were showing in my left 'axillary' lymph nodes (armpit) and my left 'supraclavicular fossa' (SCF) lymph nodes (clavicle area). Some 10 months previously, I had a major liver resection, and 5 months prior to the liver resection, I had a small intestinal primary removed including work on some associated complications.  There had always been a plan to optimise cytoreduction of my distant metastases, it was just a matter of timing. I still can't get my head around why metastases from a small intestinal NET managed to get to this area but…
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Recent Progress in NET Management – Positive presentation from Jonathan R Strosberg MD

Recent Progress in NET Management – Positive presentation from Jonathan R Strosberg MD

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Treatment
I recently wrote a blog called Neuroendocrine Cancer – Exciting Times Ahead! I wrote that on a day I was feeling particularly positive and at the time, I wanted to share that positivity with you. I genuinely believe there's a lot of great things happening. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot still to be done, particularly in the area of diagnosis and quality of life after being diagnosed. However, this is a really great message from a well-known NET expert. In an interview with OncLive, Jonathan R. Strosberg, MD, associate professor at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Florida, discussed his presentation on NETs at a recent 2016 Symposium, and shed light on the progress that has been made in this treatment landscape. OncLive: Please highlight some of the main points from your…
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Road ahead closed – Bowel Obstructions

Road ahead closed – Bowel Obstructions

Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
OK - we've gone through diagnosis; we've gone through treatment and now we need to live with the consequences of cancer and its treatment.  Not a day goes by when I don't feel some twinge or some minor pain, and I think 'what was that?'.  Fortunately, many things can just be day-to-day niggles or in my case, the perils of getting older! The natural tendency is to think your cancer is causing these things.... easy to say, but very often not easy to prove.  However, for Neuroendocrine Tumour (NET) patients who have had surgery, anything that seems like a bowel obstruction is quite a scary thought (I suspect this is also an issue for other cancer types).  In fact, even before diagnosis, a bowel obstruction can be how the condition is…
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Theranostics for Neuroendocrine Cancer –  A Find and Destroy Mission

Theranostics for Neuroendocrine Cancer – A Find and Destroy Mission

Awareness, Clinical Trials, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Treatment
[caption id="attachment_14426" width="1200"] Courtesy of Pashtoon Kasi MD on Twitter https://twitter.com/pashtoonkasi/status/1078675398601396224[/caption] Theranostics is a joining of the words therapeutics and diagnostics. You may also see it conveyed as 'Theragnostics' and these terms are interchangeable. The basic aim of theranotistics is to find and then destroy the 'bad guys'. With Neuroendocrine Cancer, finding the tumours (the bad guys) can often be a challenge - they can be small and/or difficult to find - they are sometimes expert at camouflage. Moreover, once found, they can then be difficult to treat (destroy), as they can often prove resistant to conventional cancer drugs and many are inoperable due to sheer quantity, spread and positioning. When they are found and identified, it's also really helpful to know from the intelligence gathered, how successful the destroy…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer: Nodes, Nodules, Lesions (and false alarms!)

Neuroendocrine Cancer: Nodes, Nodules, Lesions (and false alarms!)

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
A fairly common disposition of Neuroendocrine Neoplasms is a primary with associated local/regional secondary's (e.g. lymph nodes), and often with liver metastases. Technically speaking, the liver is distant. However, many metastatic patients appear to have additional and odd appearances in even more distant places, including (but not limited to) the extremities and the head & neck. Certain things are known about the behaviour of Neuroendocrine Neoplasms (NENs) (a term for Neuroendocrine Tumours and Neuroendocrine Carcinoma) and specialists will be analysing many factors when working out the type of NEN and how it might behave. This is useful in cases of unknown primaries as it can give them clues to the possible location(s). Read more about these issues in my article "Needle in a Haystack".How does cancer spread? In addition to…
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Surgery for Neuroendocrine Neoplasms – to cut or not to cut?

Surgery for Neuroendocrine Neoplasms – to cut or not to cut?

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
Reviewed and edited 26th September 2021Surgery can sometimes be a tough call (......to cut or not to cut?)It is an area where I have some sympathy for physicians and surgeons who sometimes have tough decisions to make. Surgery is risky, particularly where people are presenting in a weak condition, perhaps with very advanced disease, secondary illness and comorbidities. I also suspect age is a factor (I was surprised to find myself considered 'young' at 55). Physicians and surgeons need to weigh up these risks and the consequences of the surgery against a 'watch and wait' or alternative non-surgical approach. This would normally be discussed via a 'Tumor Board' or Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) meeting. However, and although imaging helps, the situation is not really 100% clear until the surgeon 'gets inside'.…
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Somatostatin Analogues for Neuroendocrine Cancer:  Lanreotide and Octreotide

Somatostatin Analogues for Neuroendocrine Cancer: Lanreotide and Octreotide

Treatment
Somatostatin Analogues are the 'workhorse' treatments for those living with NETs, particularly where certain syndromes are involved.  So not just for classic NETs with Carcinoid Syndrome but also for treating the hormone overscretions caused by insulinoma, gastrinoma, glucagonoma and VIPoma (all types of pNETs) and others. They are most effective if the NETs express somatostatin receptors.  They also have an anti-tumour effect but more of a slowing down of growth rather than a killing or reduction of tumour size - but there are always outliers where such effects are displayed.Somatostatin is actually a naturally occurring hormone produced by the hypothalamus and some other tissues such as the pancreas and the gastrointestinal tract. However, it can only handle the normal release of hormones.  When NET syndromes occur, the naturally occurring somatostatin is unable to cope. The…
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Neuroendocrine – don’t let it be a Crisis

Neuroendocrine – don’t let it be a Crisis

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Treatment
Update 15th November 2021.   A study presented at NANETS 2021 produced data to suggest the causes and treatment for carcinoid crisis have been wrong and that a new model is required.  Read the article here or by clicking on the picture.Author's notes:  This is possibly a controversial conclusion in some circles and it's worth pointing out that so called 'carcinoid crisis' isn't going away, just the need for time consuming and expensive, and apparently ineffective according to the study, perioperative protection.  And the study also noted that medication to treat complications was still required.  I don't believe we should immediately dismiss this conclusion as one of the authors is a 'big hitter' NET Specialist surgeon (Dr Rodney Pommier) whose job it is to keep patients safe on the operating table.However,…
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Chemo or not Chemo – that is the question 

Chemo or not Chemo – that is the question 

Treatment
Chemo or not Chemo - that is the question OPINION POSTI'm continually seeing certain drugs for the treatment of Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) described as "chemotherapy". I think there must be some confusion with more modern drugs which are more targeted and work in a different way to Chemotherapy.  According to Mayo Clinic: "In many ways, cytotoxic chemotherapy is "targeted" at specific molecules that regulate progression through the cell cycle; however, these targets are generally not specific for tumor cells. Because systemic cytotoxic chemotherapy targets all rapidly dividing cells, it also attacks hair follicles, gastrointestinal mucosa, and hematopoietic cells thereby inducing the classical side effects of treatment such as alopecia, nausea, diarrhea, mucositis, and bone marrow suppression. The newer generation of targeted biological therapies is still administered systemically as traditional chemotherapy;…
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Palliative Care – it might just save your life

Palliative Care – it might just save your life

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
When you've been diagnosed with cancer at an incurable stage, certain words start to mean more. Take 'palliative' for example.  Before I was diagnosed, I had always associated the word 'palliative' with someone who had a terminal disease, and this type of care was to make the final days/weeks as comfortable as possible. So, it was a bit of a shock to find out in 2010 that my treatment was palliative in nature. However, I'm still not dead and I'm still receiving palliative care. Go figure! The answer is simple - the cancer story is changing. What was once feared as a death sentence is now an illness in which many people survive. As survival rates increase, so too will the number of people who live with the legacy of…
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“You must be doing OK, you’ve not had chemotherapy”

“You must be doing OK, you’ve not had chemotherapy”

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
If there's a word which is synonymous with cancer, it's chemotherapy.  It's what most people have in their mind when they are talking to a cancer patient...... 'have you had chemotherapy' or 'when do you start chemotherapy'.I was nonchalantly asked by a friend some time ago 'how did you get on with chemotherapy' - he was surprised to hear I hadn't had it despite my widespread disease.  Cue - lengthy explanation!  I wasn't annoyed by the question; I just think people automatically assume every cancer patient must undergo some form of systemic chemotherapy.  If you read any newspaper article about cancer, they do nothing to dispel that myth, as many articles contain a story about a cancer patient with no hair.Sure, chemotherapy is not the nicest treatment to receive, and it does…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – Exciting Times Ahead!  

Neuroendocrine Cancer – Exciting Times Ahead!  

Inspiration, Survivorship, Treatment
In the last 12-24 months, there seems to have been announcement after announcement of new and/or upgraded/enhanced diagnostics and treatment types for Neuroendocrine Cancer.  Scans, radionuclide therapies, combination therapies, somatostatin analogues, biological therapies, etc.  Some of the announcements are just expansions of existing therapies having been approved in new (but significant) regions. Compared to some other cancers, even those which hit the headlines often, we appear to be doing not too badly.  However, the pressure needs to stay on, all patients need access to the best diagnostics and treatments for them; and at the requisite time.  There's even more in the pipeline and I'm hoping to continue to bring you news of new stuff as I have been doing for the last year. Some of these new diagnostics and treatments will benefit eligible patients who are…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer: Hurry up and wait

Neuroendocrine Cancer: Hurry up and wait

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
Share on facebook Facebook Share on twitter Twitter Share on pinterest Pinterest Share on whatsapp WhatsApp Share on email Email When I was diagnosed with metastatic well differentiated Neuroendocrine Cancer on 26 July 2010, I just wanted them to hurry up and fix my body so I could get back to normal. My expectations of speed turned out to be wildly inaccurate and in hindsight, I was also wildly naïve. You see, with Neuroendocrine Cancer, particularly well-differentiated, low or medium grade tumours, it sometimes doesn't work as fast as you would think and there are good reasons for that. The complexity of the condition needs some consideration as the physicians work up a treatment plan. I'm quite happy and content they took their time, rather than rush into the wrong…
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Did you hear the one about the constipated NET patient?

Did you hear the one about the constipated NET patient?

Awareness, Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
In my neck of the woods, "did you hear the one about the ........." is normally a precursor to a witty comment, or a joke.   However, constipation for NET patients is not actually funny - read on.Certain types of Neuroendocrine Cancer are very heavily associated with diarrhea, either as a symptom of one of the NET Syndromes (yes there is more than one .....); or as a result of surgery or certain other treatments.  Occasionally, these symptoms and side effects can all combine to make it quite a nasty and worrying side effect.I must admit to being surprised to find myself with feelings of constipation from around 4-5 years after my treatment and I set about trying to find out why that might be. To understand why I got to this…
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Steve Jobs – the most famous Neuroendocrine Cancer Ambassador we NEVER had

Steve Jobs – the most famous Neuroendocrine Cancer Ambassador we NEVER had

Awareness, Diet and Nutrition, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
Steve Jobs died 5 Oct 2011. RIP Steve, you certainly made a difference to the world of technology and that is still being felt today. I have a number of google alerts setup and every day the emails arrive in my inbox. The longest email is always the Steve Jobs one, i.e. Steve Jobs is written about more than Neuroendocrine Cancer and other connected subjects. That's interesting because Neuroendocrine Cancer is the type Steve had, not Pancreatic as is frequently reported.There are huge differences between Pancreatic Cancer and Neuroendocrine Cancer with a pancreatic primary - click here to read more. I've mentioned Steve Jobs a few times previously, mainly in my blog The Human Anatomy of Neuroendocrine Cancer. I wrote that blog when I was frustrated about the constant misreporting…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer: Patient Power!

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
There's a saying that the patient is the most underused person in healthcare and I think there's a lot of truth in that. However, I would suggest with Neuroendocrine Cancer, it's less true than for many other cancers. There are so many NET Cancer patients out there who know quite a lot about their cancer, and in some detail. Even the great Dr Liu once said that NET Patients frequently know more about NET Cancer than their doctors. If you go onto Twitter, if you go onto Facebook, if you read newspaper stories, you will find cancer patient stories in abundance and they will normally be patients diagnosed with the big 4 cancers. This is not surprising as these tend to affect more people.  However, the ratio of NET Cancer…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – the diarrhea jigsaw

Neuroendocrine Cancer – the diarrhea jigsaw

Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
Diarrhea can be a symptom of many conditions, but it is particularly key in Neuroendocrine Tumour (NET) Syndromes and types, in particular, Carcinoid Syndrome but also in those associated with various other NET types such as VIPoma, PPoma, Gastrinoma, Somatostatinoma, Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma.Secondly, it can be a key consequence (side effect) of the treatment for Neuroendocrine Tumours and Carcinomas, in particular following surgery where various bits of the gastrointestinal tract are excised to remove and/or debulk tumour load.There are other reasons that might be causing or contributing, including (but not limited to) endocrine problems such as hyperthryoidism, mastocytosis or Addison's disease (which may be secondary illnesses in those with NETs). It's also possible that 'non-sydromic' issues such as stress and diet are contributing. It could be caused by other things…
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Somatostatin Receptors

Somatostatin Receptors

Awareness, Treatment
Don't understand Somatostatin Receptors? Join the club! I got my head around the term 'Somatostatin' and 'Somatostatin Analogues' some time ago but the term 'Somatostatin Receptor' (SSTR) is still a bit of a mystery. SSTRs do come up in conversation quite often and I'm fed up of nodding sagely hoping it will eventually become clear! On analysis it looks like a technical subject - and therefore a challenge.I've taken a logical approach working from 'Somatostatin' to 'Somatostatin Analogue' before commencing on the 'receptor' bit. It is intentionally brief and (hopefully) simplistic!SomatostatinIt's important to understand this hormone and then why your 'butt dart' is generically called a 'Somatostatin Analogue'.Some Neuroendocrine Tumours secrete hormones and peptides that cause distinct clinical syndromes, including but not limited to, carcinoid syndrome.Somatostatin is a naturally occurring…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer: Troublesome Thyroids

Neuroendocrine Cancer: Troublesome Thyroids

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
In 2013, just when I thought everything seemed to be under control, I was told I had a 'lesion' on the left upper lobe of my thyroid.  At the time, it was a bit of a shock as I had already been subjected to some radical surgery and wondered if this was just part of the relentless march of metastatic NET disease.  The thyroid gland does in fact get mentioned frequently in NET patient discussions but many of the conversations I monitored didn't seem to fit my scenario - cue relentless study! I've been meaning to write this blog for some time but here is a synopsis of my research translated into 'patient speak'.  This is intentionally brief, it's a big subject.  I'll finish off with an update on where I…
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What you don’t know might kill you

What you don’t know might kill you

Awareness, Treatment
[caption id="attachment_16224" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Barbados heaven but I was oblivious to the fact that cancer was trying to kill me[/caption] A few weeks before I was diagnosed in July 2010, Chris and I flew off to Barbados on holiday.  Both of us were looking forward to a nice break after a hectic start to 2010.  When we got back, we both agreed it was the most relaxing holiday we had ever been on. However, what I didnt know all the time I was lying on a sunbed soaking up the Caribbean sun drinking 'pina coladas', was the fact that Neuroendocrine Tumours had been growing in my small intestine, had spread into my mesenteric lymph nodes, into my liver, into my left armpit and into my left clavicle area.  I also had…
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Intra-Operative RadioTheraphy (IORT) for Neuroendocrine Cancer – new landmark treatment launch

Awareness, Treatment
[caption id="attachment_6231" align="aligncenter" width="500"] IORT[/caption] New treatments seem to be appearing every month and that is good news for patients.  I have a personal connection to this one though.  In 2014, Chris and I walked along Hadrian's Wall, a 2,000-year-old World Heritage structure in Northern England.  This was part therapy for me but also part fund-raising to help pay for this new treatment which launches today in Southampton General Hospital (UK) which was recently awarded the coveted title of European NET Centre of Excellence (along with Bournemouth and Portsmouth Hospitals).  It is the first ever deployment of this type of treatment in UK and Chris and I were happy to shred the soles of our feet to support this worthy cause, particularly when the two guys behind the idea were my surgeon (Mr Neil…
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The 5 E’s (of Carcinoid Syndrome)

The 5 E’s (of Carcinoid Syndrome)

Awareness, Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
Since my diagnosis, I seem to have been in a perpetual learning phase! What not to do, what not to eat, what not to read! However, early on in my experience, I came across a list of 'E' words (5 of them) which is a handy reminder for Carcinoid Syndrome patients, particularly those whose symptoms are not under control. When I say "carcinoid syndrome" in this article, I only mean the syndrome that is caused by what was once called "Carcinoid Tumors", i.e. mainly serotonin secreting types but include tumours which are well differentiated found in the small intestine, appendiceal, rectal, lung, and one or two other less common places. There are many variations of this list, but this is my take! I suspect some of this also applies to…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – my liver surgery

Neuroendocrine Cancer – my liver surgery

Treatment
Laparoscopic Surgery ("Keyhole") From day 1 of my diagnosis, I knew my liver was going to need some attention, but I had always known that total removal of all tumours would not be possible - the diagnostic scan confirmed I had an incurable disease. This critical organ did in fact produce the biopsy confirming Neuroendocrine Cancer. The early scans indicated multiple liver lesions and an Octreotide scan reported several with quite avid isotope activity. However, as you can see from my clinical history, they first stabilised my syndrome via daily Octreotide so my tumours were subdued ready for major surgery which took place Nov 2010 - I wrote about this as Part 1 and Part 2 stories. As we are talking about my liver, it's worth noting that a bland…
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Telotristat Ethyl (XERMELO®) – an oral treatment for Carcinoid Syndrome Diarrhea not adequately controlled by Somatostatin Analogues

Telotristat Ethyl (XERMELO®) – an oral treatment for Carcinoid Syndrome Diarrhea not adequately controlled by Somatostatin Analogues

Treatment
What is Telotristat Ethyl?Telotristat Ethyl is a significant introduction to the treatment of Carcinoid Syndrome diarrhea. It's the first addition to the standard of care in more than 16 years and the first time an oral syndrome treatment has been developed.  The drug was previously known as Telotristat Etiprate but was changed to Ethyl in Oct 2016. 'Etiprate' was previously a truncation of 'ethyl hippurate'.  The brand name is XERMELO® 4th April 2022 updateSERB is pleased to announce it has acquired the rights from Ipsen to commercialize Xermelo® (telotristat ethyl) in Europe and other countries outside the US and Japan.  Xermelo® will be commercially available from SERB outside the US and Japan starting in July 2022.   The announcement appears to infer that SERB are working with BTG Specialty Pharmaceuticals to complete this task. (SERB…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – Incurable is not untreatable

Neuroendocrine Cancer – Incurable is not untreatable

Awareness, Inspiration, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Survivorship, Treatment
OPINION. When I was being officially told I had advanced and incurable cancer, I did what most people seem to do on films/TV ..... I asked "how long do I have".  The Oncologist started off with " ... perhaps just months ........".  That must have been quite a shock because for a few moments after that, I heard nothing - my brain was clearly still trying to process those words - I wasn't even feeling unwell! The really important bit I missed was him go on to say "...but with the right treatment, you should be able to live for a lot longer".  Fortunately, my wife Chris heard it all and I was refocused.  "OK Doc - let's go" I said.  Always take someone with you to take notes at important meetings with…
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Innovation at Royal Free – Lung Biopsy and Radio Frequency Ablation Service

Treatment
[caption id="attachment_4852" align="alignleft" width="301"] Image with permission from Dr Sam Hare (www.lungdiagnosis.com)[/caption] A team of radiologists and respiratory consultants who introduced a new and more efficient lung biopsy method at Barnet Hospital London, has been named the winner of the NHS Innovation Challenge Prize in the ‘cancer care’ category.  Barnet Hospital is run by the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust which is well known for its Neuroendocrine Cancer Centre of Excellence. Not happy with this, they've now gone on to introduce a new service combining this innovative biopsy system with Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA) of tumours in the same procedure. Combined Biopsy with Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA) This new service has significant advantages for those who have localised tumours less than 3cm and can't for whatever reason have surgery.  I've checked with…
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Clinical Trial: Neuroendocrine Cancer drug in the pipeline – Fosbretabulin Tromethamine CA4P (incl combo with Everolimus)

Clinical Trial: Neuroendocrine Cancer drug in the pipeline – Fosbretabulin Tromethamine CA4P (incl combo with Everolimus)

Treatment
[caption id="attachment_8939" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Click this picture to see how VDAs work[/caption] {NEW} added 4 June 2019 From ASCO 2019 conference extract: Of the 17 patients enrolled, 16 completed the 12-week trial. One patient was not evaluable due to noncompliance. No DLTs were observed at day 21. The highest dose of 10 mg daily oral everolimus in combination with weekly 60mg/m2 IV fosbretabulin is the RP2D. No grade 4 or 5 toxicities were noted. Grade 3 toxicities were seen in 5 patients; abdominal pain and hyperglycemia (not related to study drug), fatigue (possibly related), decreased lymphocyte count and anemia (related). Several patients had delay in treatment due to grade 2 AE’s (GI symptoms, rash, thrombocytopenia) and one patient was unable to complete treatment due to pneumonitis. All evaluable patients except…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer:  My experience with Lanreotide (Somatuline Autogel/Depot)

Neuroendocrine Cancer: My experience with Lanreotide (Somatuline Autogel/Depot)

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
On 9th December 2021, I celebrated 11 years of Lanreotide - click here to read about that.My Lanreotide ExperienceWhen I was discharged from hospital following major surgery in Nov 2010, I knew I would shortly be commencing long-term monthly 'somatostatin analogue' treatment and had assumed Octreotide (Sandostatin LAR) would be the drug of choice. However, my Oncologist prescribed Lanreotide (known in the UK as Somatuline Autogel and elsewhere as Somatuline Depot).  Technically this is a hormone therapy (it's not chemo).Somatostatin Analogues (Octreotide/Lanreotide) are mainstay treatments for many Neuroendocrine Cancer patients and their introduction is a very significant factor in the improvement of both prognostic outcomes and quality of life.  Both drugs are designed to control Carcinoid Syndrome (but can be used selectively in other NET syndromes) and both have anti-tumour effects.  Check out…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer Surgery – Small Intestine NET, my own experience (part 2)

Neuroendocrine Cancer Surgery – Small Intestine NET, my own experience (part 2)

Treatment
The surgery on 9 Nov 2010 had lasted 9 hours but according to my surgeon Mr Neil Pearce (on the left on the picture below), I tolerated it well.  My first week was quite tough and I outlined how this went in my blog 'patient experience' part 1.  If you've not read it yet, please click on this link before reading any further. By this stage of my stay, I'm now minus most of the temporary tubes attached to my body, a good sign of recovery. The one which seemed to offer me the greatest freedom when removed was the urine catheter. It doubled my speed down the hospital corridor during my daily exercises.  It was also so much easier to get to the toilet, a much-frequented area at the time…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer Surgery – Small Intestine NET, my own experience (part 1)

Neuroendocrine Cancer Surgery – Small Intestine NET, my own experience (part 1)

Survivorship, Treatment
This is a personal story but a more technical description of Small Intestine surgery for a NET can be found by clicking here.  This is not normal bowel surgery. Often the decision to cut or not to cut is a tough one. My own experience 8th - 26th November 2010Memories of my 18 day stay in hospital from 8 - 26 Nov 2010, are not only reminding me of how important that particular treatment was to be, but also how surreal it felt at the time. Some of it is still a blur, particularly the early days where the morphine was in control.  For many NET patients, surgery can be a mainstay treatment, even for those with metastatic disease.  In fact, I now know from my own research that NETs is…
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Your Money or Your Life

Your Money or Your Life

Inspiration, Survivorship, Treatment
As I have a 2 year old post about Danielle, I wanted to preface it with this message. It is with great sadness that I let you know Danielle Tindle passed away at the end of August 2017 after a prolonged battle with Neuroendocrine Carcinoma. She had been fighting cancer in one form or another for 12 years and became passionate in campaigning for more attention for young cancer patients.  I've been following her story for almost 2 years and she has really inspired me.  The title of this article is based on the title of a TV programme about her and her campaign to gain access to new drugs.  I had chatted with Danielle online about some of the story below and I hope I've interpreted it correctly.   RIP…
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Other people get cancer, not me

Other people get cancer, not me

Inspiration, Treatment
Denial I talk often about my diagnosis but not about an 'incident' which occurred almost immediately prior to being formally told.I was well into the 'diagnostic phase', having had all sorts of tests including a liver biopsy.  I vividly remember thinking these tests were a 'nuisance', I was far too busy and I didn't even feel ill.  In hindsight, I was fortunate to have had such a thorough bunch of physicians who diagnosed me with metastatic Neuroendocrine Cancer in about 6 weeks 'flash to bang'.  I intentionally use a phrase associated with 'quick' because in the world of Neuroendocrine Cancer, 6 weeks is 'warp speed'.So why was I admitted to hospital during the diagnostic phase? Because I was stupid.  In fact I was double-stupid. Firstly, despite having had to undergo a liver biopsy and…
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I bet my flush beats yours?

I bet my flush beats yours?

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Patient Advocacy, Treatment
Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) can sometimes present with one or more vague symptoms which occasionally results in a lengthy diagnostic phase for some.  Sure, there can be issues with doctor experience and knowledge that can add to the problem. However, some people do present with multiple vague and confusing symptoms and some people have comorbidities that have similar symptoms.  Textbook diagnostics just don't make sense, sometimes even when the doctor suspects a NET i.e. classic symptoms of 'something' but with negative markers for NETs. Clearly, those are extreme cases and just like other complex diseases, many diagnoses of NET can be extremely challenging.  Even for an experienced doctor, it can be a difficult jigsaw! Most types of NET can have associated 'syndrome' i.e. the tumours are 'functional' and this is normally (but not…
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PRRT and the NHS England Cancer Drugs Fund (now archived information)

Treatment
[caption id="attachment_3922" align="aligncenter" width="425"] cost cutting vs life cutting?[/caption] Please note this post is now historic information - PRRT (Lutathera) was eventually approved for use in UK.  See the following post for the very latest on PRRT worldwide - CLICK HERE I was extremely disappointed to learn of the decision to remove PRRT (Lutetium or Yttrium) from the Cancer Drugs Fund (CDF).  You can read the detail of the decision here: CDF Statement.  PRRT has regularly been described by NET specialists and patients as the "magic bullet" due to its potential to shrink or kill tumours.  This is the second Neuroendocrine Cancer treatment to be withdrawn this year, after the earlier decision on Everolimus (Afinitor) in April . In fact, the recent cuts to the CDF were described in the…
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I look well but you should see my insides

I look well but you should see my insides

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
I'm sat next to patients waiting on their chemotherapy treatment - the "Chemo Ward" sign above the door gives it away.  I'm here for my 28-day cycle injection of Lanreotide which will hopefully keep my Neuroendocrine Tumours at bay.  I look all around; the temporary beds and the waiting room are full and all I can see is people who don't look as well as I do.  Some have hats or bandanas partly disguising the loss of hair. I feel for them.No matter how many visits I make, I can't help feeling out of place on a Cancer ward. I'm not sure why I feel like this; after all, I've had some very scary surgery and I've been having treatment since 2010. However, this thought doesn't seem to balance it out - some of these…
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‘Chinese Dumplings’ and Neuroendocrine Cancer

Treatment
One of my daily alerts brought up this very interesting article published in the Journal of Gastrointestinal Oncology last month (June 2015).  I personally found it fascinating. Moreover, it gave me some hope that specialists are out there looking for novel treatments to help with the difficult fight against Neuroendocrine Cancer.This is an article about something generally described as "Intra-operative Chemotherapy", i.e. the administration of chemo during surgery.  This isn't any old article - this is written by someone who is very well-known in Neuroendocrine Cancer circles - Dr. Yi-Zarn Wang.March 2022: Note Dr Wang has a new post.“I am now in Permian Basin-Odessa Midland Texas as the new Program Director of a new general surgery residency program. I have officially joined the faculty of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center on…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer Nutrition Series Article 2 – Gastrointestinal Malabsorption

Neuroendocrine Cancer Nutrition Series Article 2 – Gastrointestinal Malabsorption

Diet and Nutrition, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
This is the second article in the Neuroendocrine Cancer Nutrition series. In the first article, I focused on Vitamin and Mineral deficiency risks for patients and there is a big overlap with the subject of Gastrointestinal Malabsorption. Those who remember the content will have spotted the risks pertaining to the inability to absorb particular vitamins and minerals. This comes under the general heading of Malabsorption and in Neuroendocrine Cancer patients, this can be caused or exacerbated by one or more of a number of factors relating to their condition. It's also worth pointing out that malabsorption issues can be caused by other reasons unrelated to NETs. Additionally, malabsorption and nutrient deficiency issues can form part of the presenting symptoms which eventually lead to a diagnosis of Neuroendocrine Cancer; e.g. in my own case,…
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Surgery is risky but so is driving a car

Surgery is risky but so is driving a car

Survivorship, Treatment
I enjoyed reading an article written by Dr Eric Liu entitled The Complications of Surgery. In his article, Dr Liu, himself a surgeon, explains that surgery comes with risks, and patients should be made aware and be able to discuss these risks with their doctors. This got me thinking about my own experience which goes back to the autumn of 2010 when I first met my surgeon. At that time, there were a few articles about whether surgery or 'biochemistry' was the best treatment for certain types, grades and stages of Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs).To some extent, these debates continue, particularly for pancreatic NETs. Surgery for certain NETs in certain scenarios is a controversial issue for NETs - as outlined in this article - to cut or not to cut. I've…
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Neuroendocrine Cancer – don’t break my heart!

Neuroendocrine Cancer – don’t break my heart!

Awareness, Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
Neuroendocrine Cancer has certain unique features whereby tumours can produce one or more symptoms which are known collectively as a syndrome.  Neuroendocrine Tumours secreting excess amounts of serotonin, can be accompanied by Carcinoid Syndrome which if not diagnosed and treated early enough, can lead to an additional complication known as Hedinger Syndrome (often known as Carcinoid Heart Disease (CHD)). However, very late diagnoses can present with CHD already in place.Excess serotonin, a hormone released by NETs into the bloodstream seems to be the prime and lead suspect for causing thick ‘plaques’ or fibrosis tissue within the heart muscle and damage to (mainly) the tricuspid and pulmonary valves on the right side of the heart which can become ‘tightly narrowed’ or ‘leaky’.  It's very similar to the reasons for mesenteric and peritoneal fibrosis…
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Chasing normality

Living with Neuroendocrine Cancer, Survivorship, Treatment
Cancer isn’t always a one-time event. It can be a chronic (ongoing) illness, much like diabetes or heart disease. Cancer can be closely watched and treated, but sometimes it never completely goes away. The cancer may be 'controlled' with treatment, meaning it might seem to go away or stay the same, and it doesn’t grow or spread as long as you are getting appropriate treatment. Sometimes the treatment shrinks the cancer, but the cancer is still there – it doesn’t go away and stay away – it’s not cured.  More people are living with cancer than ever before and the ratio is on the increase thanks to better treatments. For the first 18 months following my diagnosis, I underwent a significant number of treatments and tests.  As I continue living with my cancer, that tempo doesn’t…
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Chemotherapy for Neuroendocrine Cancer

Chemotherapy for Neuroendocrine Cancer

Treatment
Edited and checked February 2022One of the unusual aspects of Neuroendocrine Cancer is that chemotherapy is not normally considered as a 'standard' or first-line treatment, unlike many other cancers. One exception is high grade (Grade 3) where it is very often a first and/or second-line therapy. This is particularly the case with poorly differentiated Neuroendocrine disease, by default labelled as Neuroendocrine Carcinoma (NEC). Many people think Chemotherapy has a short life span due to recent advances in medical science, some citing Immunotherapy as its replacement. However, it's far too early to write off chemotherapy which is still used in many scenarios and remains a tool in the arsenal of treatments for many cancer types and is predicted to do for some time yet. See more informed reporting about this below.Interest point…
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Surgery for NETs – Chop Chop

Surgery for NETs – Chop Chop

Treatment
At the end of 2014, I was feeling pretty good celebrating 4 years since my first 'big' surgery in 2010. It prompted me to write an article Surgery - the gift that keeps on giving. In that particlar article, I really just wanted to say I was grateful for the early surgical treatment and as I was just about to spend another Christmas with my family, I was reminiscing what a wonderful gift it was at the time. Other than some detail of the surgery, I didn't get too technical, I just wanted to generate a thankful and festive mood. However, a recent private message from a subscriber prompted me to study the current benefits of surgery for Neuroendocrine Tumours (NETs) in more detail just to ensure my understanding was still in line with best practice. …
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